‘Rudy’ Actor Tackles Kona as Ironman Ambassador

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Actor Sean Astin is fairly new to the triathlon scene, but he isn’t new to facing some of the active challenges that a triathlon brings.

Astin, best known for his roles as Samwise Gamgee in the “Lord of the Rings” series and Rudy Ruettiger in “Rudy,” will be taking on his first-ever full triathlon at Saturday’s Ironman World Championship, presented by GoPro.

Astin will be competing in Saturday’s event as an Ironman Ambassador, something that came about through his charity work and involvement in the running community, competing in several marathons on the mainland.

“I met Dave McGillivray, the race director of the Boston Marathon, a legend who has run across the United States of America twice. Last year, he did Kona, but he and I were speaking in a runners expo at Disney in Orlando,” said Astin of his meeting with McGillivray, which led to an invitation to the Boston Marathon.


“As soon as I started working with [McGillivray’s] charity program, he called the Ironman people and they sent me a letter in February, saying ‘We love what you are doing in the runner’s community. How would you like to come and be an ambassador for the Ironman World Championship in Kona?’ I printed out the e-mail, and I’m holding it in my hand. It felt like I was holding a top-secret document in my hand with nuclear codes,” Astin continued.

Taking on the full length Ironman championship is a challenge, considering that the only triathlon that he has ever participated in was the Ironman Vineman 70.3 triathlon in Chattanooga, Tenn. back in July.

Facing challenges is nothing new for Astin, however. It is something that helped him identify with the real life story of Rudy Ruettiger, a Notre Dame football player who never played a down until the last game of his career, where he recorded a sack and was carried off the field. The actor described how much the young football player wanted to have his story told and the amount of heart he put into achieving that goal, something that was an instant connection for Asitin.


“Everybody has the heart, and some people tap into it and use it and wear their heart on their sleeve. When that happens, it is undeniable,” Astin explained. “That’s who I am. That’s who Sean is. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I always have.”

Astin is running to benefit #Run3rd, with his motto being “I run first for myself, I run second for my family, and I #run3rd for you.”

“It’s a fun idea about dedicating people’s races to other people,” said Astin. “I’m running for all of those people who make those dedications for others. Ironman is going to donate $25,000 to the charity. We’re going to be giving little grants to these programs and allow them to have that experience.”


The programs benefiting from the charity will be various elementary after school running programs. A Crowdrise page has already brought in over $5,200, as of Thursday evening.

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