‘Fireman Rob’ is going strong during his 24-hour Challenge Daytona walk

Robert Verhelst after his first of 24 hours of walking. (Picture: Triathlon Today)

While Challenge Daytona is all about the fastest athletes in the world, but American Robert Verhelst, better known as ‘Fireman Rob’, is doing things completely differently. He doesn’t go fast, but he is a man with a mission and a very strong condition. In full equipment, about 25 kilos, he is doing a 24-hour walk and at the time of writing he has just completed the first two hours of it.

Verhelst is suffering from P.T.S.D and therefore he is doing this 24-hour walk to raise awareness for fellow sufferers. “This kind of challenges makes me forget my mental pain for a moment. Taking on difficult challenges makes me feel whole. It’s just like a triathlon: you will face some difficult moments, but you don’t want to give up. Ever.”

While Verhelst is aiming for a distance of at least 70km, he fears the mental part the most. “From eight hours in, you will be only paying attention to what is not bothering you at that point. Sometimes I will listen to music, sometimes I will not. Friends will stand by to give me some food and drinks when I’m in need of that.”

Verhelst will walk the first twelve hours on a car park in front of the Daytona International Speedway, the NASCAR-circuit where Challenge Daytona will take place the days after. After that he is even allowed to walk on the race course for his last twelve hours.