Eight hours, 28 minutes and 43 seconds. That was Kris Pinnow's time as his blistered feet hit the finish line of the IRONMAN 70.3 Raleigh triathlon in early June 2018. The cutoff time was eight hours and 30 minutes for the race that starts with a 1.2-mile swim, followed by a 56-mile bike, and ends with a 13.1-mile run.
A few months before that, Pinnow completed his first ever sprint triathlon – roughly 16 total miles.
And a few months before that very first race, Pinnow embarked on a journey to become a healthier, happier person. The journey would lead him to:
- Compete in the IRONMAN 70.3 Puerto Rico in front of his friends and family
- Raise money for the IRONMAN Foundation (IMF) to support the communities where IRONMAN races are held
- Co-create the Ride for Relief, a ride-a-thon fundraiser in which riders from around the world hopped on their bikes to provide support and awareness for the IRONMAN Foundation and the IRONAID COVID-19 Support Fund
Since its inception in 2003, the IMF has provided over $50 million to over 9,500 organizations in 75 communities.
"The Puerto Rico race was really the catalyst for me wanting to do more with the IRONMAN Foundation," said Pinnow, who serves as vice president of Collins Aerospace Supply Chain.
Pinnow has a both a personal and professional connection to Puerto Rico. His mother is from the area, and he still has family roots there. And Collins has a large employee population (approximately 1,500) in Santa Isabel, many of whom were affected by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and the series of earthquakes that hit the area in 2020. Pinnow began raising money in the months leading up to the IRONMAN 70.3 Puerto Rico to help fund grants that are given by the IMF to members of the community to support local projects.
He and the Collins Aerospace team raised over $42,000 for the IMF Foundation, all of which will be used to fund local community resiliency projects. Pinnow raised an additional $14,000 to support other IMF projects including the IRONAID COVID-19 Support Fund. As part of these efforts, over $15,000 of employee contributions were matched earlier this year through the Raytheon Technologies Make Things Better Program that is available to all employees.
After the IRONMAN in Puerto Rico, Pinnow was set to race in a few more IRONMANs, but those plans were cut short by COVID-19. However, in true IRONMAN fashion, rather than sit back, Pinnow was determined to find a way to continue to give back.
Earlier this year, he worked with people he'd met through the IMF and sketched out an idea: a 'Ride for Relief' where every single hour, 24 hours a day, for 7 days straight, someone around the world would be cycling. Riders would bike from their home setup, joining a Zoom call to stay connected with any others who were biking at the same time.
The idea blossomed into a global effort that involved 250 riders from 21 different countries (including 35 US states and Puerto Rico, of course!) riding over 14,000 total miles together. By the end of the week-long event, the riders had raised a total of $131,318.85 making it one of the most successful fundraising events that the IMF has ever held.
"It's about the impact you have on others. When you get to meet the people who benefit [from the grants] it really connects the dots for why you get involved; they inspire me to do more. "
Following the Ride for Relief, Pinnow reflected on what really drives him to get involved. "It's about two things," he said. "First, it's about the impact you have on others. When you get to meet the people who benefit [from the grants] it really connects the dots for why you get involved; they inspire me to do more. Second, it's just plain good for you. Working together for a great cause creates a special energy that really improves your mental health especially during these tough times with COVID-19."
Looking ahead, Pinnow is not only excited about getting back to racing, but also looking forward to continuing to support the IMF as a 2020 IRONMAN Foundation Ambassador and leading charitable efforts at various IRONMAN race locations. In 2021, he will concentrate his fundraising efforts to support IRONMAN’s Race for Change. The initiative supports clubs and organizations focused on welcoming a diverse core of athletes to the triathlon sport, and increasing their participation five-fold within the next five years.
In the fall of 2021, Pinnow will compete with the IRONMAN Foundation in the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. The race is considered to be one of the most challenging one-day endurance events in the world. It's a full distance IRONMAN consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike leg and a 26.2-mile marathon.
Pinnow's story is just one example of a Collins employee going the extra mile to give back to the community.