Wednesday | November 22, 2017
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A family affair: For the Basdens, Ironman week is about more than the big show

KAILUA-KONA — For Big Island triathlete Erik Basden, his fondest memories of competing in the Ironman World Champion for the first time in 2015 were the ones leading up to the race.

These were the moments where he was able to spend time with his now 11-year-old daughter Jaiden, as they participated in all the events that make Ironman week in Kona so special — from the Keiki Dip-n-Dash to the Parade of Nations and more.

A little more than a year after his World Championship debut, with the 2017 calendar year just getting started, Jaiden had a question for her dad. Well, it wasn’t really a question, it was more of a statement, perhaps even a demand.

“You better do Ironman again, dad,” Jaiden said.

Erik responded with a quick, “Oh, really?”

But he knew what the statement meant. He knew that he would have to find away to get in. Besides, Erik still remembered all the fun he had the first time around. So he threw his name into the local drawing to give the Ironman World Championship one more go.

As April approached, the Basden clan was keeping busy. Erik competes in pretty much every big race on the island, and many of the smaller ones too, while Jaiden keeps busy with plenty of keiki runs and surfing.

One early morning, Erik got a text from a friend who congratulated him. The informed friend had received an early copy of a West Hawaii Today and in that paper was a list of local athletes selected to compete in the Ironman World Championship.

Erik was thrilled, but he had to see it for himself. So at 4:30 a.m., while wearing nothing but his underwear, he drove to the mini-mart and picked up a copy for himself. When he turned to the sports section, there it was — his named listed among a select few.

The first thing he had to do was tell his daughter. She was less than thrilled with the early morning wake-up call.

“I woke Jaiden up and told her and she said, ‘OK, cool. Can I go back to sleep now,’” Erik laughed.

After getting a full night of sleep — and waking up more refreshed the next day — Jaiden was able to fully process the news and she was happy about sharing another week of Ironman activities with her father.

Those activities kicked on Tuesday for the pair with the Ironkids-sponsored Keiki Dip-n-Dash, which put Jaiden on the race course and relegated Erik to a spectator role.

Jaiden estimates she has competed in the Ironkids race four or five times, but this was just the second time she was able to do so in the same week her father would be competing in the big race. That made it a little more special.

“It is our own little Ironman,” Jaiden said. “It is something we can do for fun and we both get the chance to experience the feeling of competing, while also sharing memories and spending quality time together.”

After finishing second in the Keiki Dip-n-Dash last year, Jaiden elected to take it easy in this year’s race while running with her friend Sophi Carlucci.

Like her father, Jaiden just wanted to share her Ironman experiences with as many people as she could.

“This was Sophi’s first Ironkids run,” Jaiden said. “I wanted her to experience it and see how it feels. I did not really care where we finished.”

Later, after the Keiki Dip-n-Dash, Erik and Jaiden also had the opportunity to walk in the annual Parade of Nations together down Alii Drive.

“I live, train and work on Alii, so this area is very special to me,” Erik said. “I may not be Hawaiian by blood but it is in my heart.”

As race day approaches, Erik, who is a member of Team BioAstin, is preparing for his second big test with many goals in mind. He would like to finish two hours faster than he did in 2015, and he is also working on raising money for cancer through the F C Cancer Foundation. Through their website, people can donate money to help fight cancer, while also taking a guess at what time Erik will finish the Ironman World Championship in for a chance to win a gift basket from BioAstin.

However, one the biggest moments he is looking forward to is making that turn on Alii, where he has a little something special planned.

“I will be carrying the original Hawaii flag and my daughter is going to run to the finish line with me,” Erik said. “I have always wanted to live in Hawaii and I have been here for 17 years now. Some of the people I work with wanted me to carry the flag, and I am honored to do so.”

Finishing the Ironman with his daughter is only fitting, since he introduced her to endurance sports and tries to set the best example he can as a role model.

“We do a lot of local events and she loves to stay active, just like I do,” Erik said. “We only get one shot at life. Staying healthy is a lifestyle. I like to set goals and go after them. Once you put your mind to something you can do anything and that is what I am showing my daughter by doing Ironman.”

Despite making it to the big stage, the Basden duo makes sure not to lose sight of what really matters — having fun. When Jaiden said she wanted to slow down her pace and run with her friend in the Ironkids race, her father had no problem with it.

“Sometimes she just wants to cruise in an event and not go for the win. That is fine,” Erik said. “I tell her to just have fun, because if you are not, then what is the point? It is the same for me when I am racing Ironman. As long as it stays fun for me, I will keep doing it.”


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