Our story begins at an orphanage in Germany, where nine-year-old Dirk Aschmoneit, determined to climb a tree, has broken his leg.
Doctors quickly fixed his leg, and after a reluctant convalescence, young Dirk was back outside seeking new challenges to overcome.
At 14, he began an impressive competitive swimming career, and seven years later, he participated in his first triathlon in Koblenz, Germany.
In 1984, Dirk won his first major race, the European Championships Long Course (Cologne Triathlon), and throughout the 1980s, his outstanding performance helped popularize the sport in Germany.
After competing in four consecutive Ironman races, placing second in Germany and Australia, Dirk lined up to represent his country at the 1991 Ironman New Zealand. Eight hours, 30 minutes and 15 seconds later, he set a new course record and became the first German citizen to win an Ironman competition.
Dirk continued to compete internationally until his unexpected retirement in 1994. Throughout his career, he had complained of back pain, but it wasn’t until a doctor identified an undiagnosed spinal fracture that Dirk realized his childhood fall from the tree had hurt more than just his leg.
Undergoing a series of back surgeries in 2003, Dirk once again found himself convalescing and day-dreaming of being outside the same way he did when he was nine years old.
Dirk challenged himself to return to the world of endurance racing, and through hard work and determination, lined up to start at the 2008 Ironman Arizona. Later that day, he won his age group and qualified for the Ironman World Championships. Since then, he’s competed in triathlons around the world.
On June 2, Dirk will participate in the first annual Herbalife24 Triathlon Los Angeles as a guide for Drew Hunthausen, a blind and partially deaf triathlete.
Many miles lie between Germany and that starting line in Venice Beach, but Dirk’s story is just another example of how an ordinary person can outrun adversity to accomplish something extraordinary.
For more athlete stories and articles on sports nutrition and fitness, visit I Am Herbalife Nutrition.