A Tailgate night took country music star Ryan Kinder to Ironman – Triathlete


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During Tennessee Titans football games, the cheerleader team divides into four “line groups,” or formations that entertain fans at various corners of the field. In the parking lot, however, is “Line Five,” the nickname for husbands and boyfriends who crawl outside the stadium after dropping off loved ones at work. It was there that the country music star Ryan kinder met U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Kyle Wagley, sparking a friendship that would change the course of his life.

“In [my wife] The first year of encouragement from Heather, I came to the hatchback of the Line Five and Kyle was the first person to give me a chair, a beer and made me feel like part of the group, ”recalls Kinder. “Those mornings in line with him and the guys are wonderful memories.”

At these hatchback parties, Wagley would often talk about his training for the Trace of the Tower of Natchez, a cancer charity run spanning the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway over four days from Mississippi to Nashville. Wagley completed the ride in 2016 after beating stomach cancer and was training for a rehearsal when he learned the cancer had returned. Without thinking, Kinder offered to complete the ride for him.

“I had three months to prepare,” Kinder laughs. “I knew how to ride a bike, but I wasn’t an avid cyclist.

The cancer progressed rapidly and Wagley passed away before seeing his friend take on his first challenge as an endurance athlete. But Kinder was determined to see it through. During this ride, he met another friend who would change his life: Wagley’s roommate during the 444, who was riding a strange type of bike that Kinder had never seen before.

“After talking to him for a while, since there is a lot of time to talk on such a long ride, he told me it was a TT bike,” Kinder said. “He started telling me about Ironman and how Kyle had talked about making one one day. I then vowed to myself to do as much as possible in honor of Kyle, as he would never be able to finish one himself.

Kinder grew up playing baseball and running, but never considered himself an athlete. The country music singer, songwriter, and guitarist had a heavy recording and touring schedule that wasn’t exactly conducive to the hours of training required for an Ironman. But Kinder was determined.

“Like anyone who wants it enough, you can’t find the time, you take the time,” Kinder said. “I guess most age groups have busy schedules during the week with their work, family and daily life. We’ve all realized that “I’m going to have to sacrifice some things to get to where I want to be with this company. This sacrifice is different for everyone.

For Kinder, that meant waking up at 4:30 a.m. to train, usually on a training bike on his tour bus. “It was and still is difficult for me,” Kinder admits. “I’m not a morning person at all.” He ran and swam before concerts, and did tune-up runs wherever he could. At Ironman Florida 2019, Kinder crossed the finish line on behalf of his friend.

Kinder will compete again for Wagley, this time at the Ironman World Championships in Kona. In addition to participating in the rescheduled 2022 event on an Ironman Foundation slot machine, the Kinder charity will be hosting an initiative called Kahiau together during the race week. “Since the pandemic has hurt the island so much due to the lack of tourism, we will help those in need,” Kinder said. The initiative will provide ready meals and grocery baskets to the most isolated and vulnerable keiki (youth) and kupuna (elderly) in the community.

For Kinder, there’s no better way to honor the friendship that changed her life. “Every finish line I crossed, I thought:”I wish Kyle was there to do that with me, ‘“Kinder said.” He had an amazing work ethic and was a beast of a cyclist. “


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