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Meet Hawaii’s “Iron Ranger”

September 25, 2013
National Park Service Park Ranger Jon Jokiel is getting ready for the race of his life: the Ironman World Championship. (NPS)

National Park Service Park Ranger Jon Jokiel is getting ready for the race of his life: the Ironman World Championship on October 12, 2013. (NPS)

Jon Jokiel, a park ranger at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, is getting ready to compete in what has become arguably one of the most well-known and difficult triathlons in the world: the Ironman World Championship. Jon will be one of only about 1800 athletes from around the world who will attempt the grueling race that begins with a 2.4 mile swim, continues with a 112-mile bike ride, and ends with a full marathon. As daunting as this may seem to most, this 48-year old park ranger has been training for this moment most of his life.

“I’ve been an endurance athlete since I was in high school when I first started running track and cross-country. I’ve always liked Long Distance events and my first Marathon was the Honolulu Marathon in 1980.  After high school I competed in the “new” sport of triathlon (now it seems to be very popular) in a few sprint events. One of the first triathlons I ever completed was in Chicago in 1988.  I swam in Lake Michigan and luckily that year the water temp was extra warm!  I’ve always enjoyed sports that challenged me physically and spiritually. I was into glacier climbing in the Cascades before I moved back to Hawaii in 2005 (I grew up in Kaneohe, Oahu).  I knew I wanted to do the ultimate endurance event, the Kona Ironman, when I volunteered for the race in 2007. “

Jon with then-Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz (now U.S. Senator) at last year's December 7 remembrance event at the USS Arizona Memorial. (NPS)

Jon with then-Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz (now U.S. Senator) at last year’s December 7 remembrance event at the USS Arizona Memorial. (NPS)

Even before he knew that he would have the opportunity to compete in the Ironman World Championship, Jon’s coworkers would often see him running or biking to and from work at the park (this includes an elevation gain/descent of about 1500 feet in a matter of a couple miles!). This daily ritual helps explain that “though I am approaching 50, I feel like I’m in my 20s again.” As far as the race is concerned, “My goal is to follow my race plan and finish.   Finishing is the main goal for me as well as just enjoying the journey.   With my current fitness I hope to be somewhere in the 12 hour range on race day if all goes well!”

In addition to working the past seven years at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Jon has also served as a park ranger at Alcatraz Island (Golden Gate National Recreation Area) and at Mount Rainier National Park. Jon is also a member of our Pacific Island social media team and is a regular contributor to this site. So if you happen to be on Hawaii Island October 12, be sure to cheer on #737..our Iron Ranger! 

Let's see if Jon will still be jumping after he finishes his first Ironman World Championship! (NPS)

Let’s see if Jon will still be jumping after he finishes his first Ironman World Championship! (NPS)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Melia Alexander permalink
    September 25, 2013 4:46 pm

    Best of luck to you, Jon! Although in my book, you’re already a winner! :-)

  2. Melanie Truan permalink
    September 26, 2013 8:58 am

    Bravo Jon! We’re rooting for you!

  3. Carol Ann Solien permalink
    September 26, 2013 9:37 am

    CAROL AND MARK
    IMUA JON! we’ll be there!

  4. Catherine Lang permalink
    October 9, 2013 10:15 am

    Best of luck to you, Jon. We’ll be cheering you on from this other island in the Pacific :-) Best, Catherine and Bruce Martin

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