As an Army soldier who is currently deployed for service in Afghanistan, he often finds it difficult to work in his scheduled training sessions for the endurance events he loves. In between his mandated Army duties, he tries to squeeze in as much swimming, cycling, running, and weight training as possible.

After stumbling across the REV3 event online, Nathan learned more about the race and became intrigued. After watching several family members battle cancer—including his grandfather, who finally succumbed to the disease after two decades—Nathan has a vested interest in helping to fund the research for a cure. After registering for REV3 and  pledging to raise $1,000, he’s already 43% toward his goal.

We spent some time talking with Nathan about his fitness background, what motivated him to register for the REV3 Triathlon, and what advice he has for aspiring triathletes. (Remember, it’s not too late to register—click here to become a part of this exciting and challenging event!)

What made you decide to sign up for the charity challenge?

I found out about REV3 when I happened to stumbleupon a fitness blog that mentionedit. When I visited the web page for the event, I was really excited to find out about alternate HIM events. Although the Ironman series are usually the most popular, the REV3 event really appealed to me.

There were several reasons for my decision to participate in the charity challenge. Through the generations, several of my family members have been diagnosed with cancer, some of them ultimately losing the battle. My grandfather suffered from three different bouts of cancer over a period of 10-20 years. I really admire the strength he displayed during his struggle. The V Foundation is raising a great deal of awareness for the cause, and I have a great deal of respect for all of the founders and promoters.

By registering in a charity slot, I hoped to be able to raise more than just a standard entry fee.

Why did you choose the REV3 event over other charity events? What significance does it hold for you?

The REV3 gives me the opportunity to be part of a new and exciting event that has the potential to become as popular as the Ironman. I was also impressed by the professional athletes that had registered. The schedule worked out perfectly, too, allowing me to train in the U.S. before the event. Although training in Afghanistan is great, I need some time to get acclimated to the climate in the States. Also, this race will give me a good measurement before the Augusta 70.3 event in September.

How do you plan to train for the event?

As a soldier currently deployed to Afghanistan, I use the high altitude here to help me prepare. I’ve been training 10-14 times per week, rotating between swimming, running, cycling, and weight lifting. I also incorporate a bit of base work and speed work, with brick workouts and endurance training whenever possible. Being in the Army doesn’t leave me with a great deal of spare time, but I do my best to work in training sessions whenever possible.

How are you working to meet your fundraising goal?

I’ve already raised 20% of my $1,000 goal amount, and I don’t think it will be tough to come up with the rest. In addition to family and friends, I also plan to use my website ( to bring awareness to the cause. I’ll also be leveraging my connections through social media and online networks.

How long have you been competing?

I’ve only been competing for a year since reinstating my dream of becoming an Ironman, but I’m already hooked and plan to continue for as long as possible.

What is your favorite sport or physical activity?

I like running the best, because it offers me an opportunity for meditation that I can’t get anywhere else. I really love ultra running, but it’s hard to find the time. Football and soccer are some of my other favorite sports.

Do you have any special dietary restrictions or eating plans to help keep you in shape?

I try to eat as healthy as possible, avoiding sugars and refined foods. I’ve been a  vegetarian since 2001, so that’s helped to eliminate a lot of poor dietary choices.

What are your long-term fitness goals?

I’d like to qualify for Kona within the next 3-5 years, but I’d also love to do the Boston Marathon and the Badwater Ultramarathon. If I have the time, the RAAM is also very intriguing. If the Ultraman becomes an option, I’ll go for that too. Whatever event I choose, I just want to keep pushing myself to achieve higher performance levels.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering entering a competitive event?

Don’t be intimidated or be afraid of looking silly. For so long, I put off trying because I was afraid of failure, and now it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. Going after your goals is much more important than how you look to others.

I tell my friends to register without thinking too hard, and then commit to a solid training plan. Once you’ve signed up, you’re much less likely to back out. Give it your best shot and see where you end up.

What is the most rewarding aspect of competing?

I’d say it’s bringing out the best in yourself and in your competitors. There’s a rush that comes with racing toe to toe with someone—the sense that your competitors are pushing you beyond your limits. And at the end, it’s a great feeling when you get to look them in the eye and shake hands. I’m not after any money or prizes—I’m just trying to beat my last performance.

What is the most challenging aspect?

The hardest part is staying motivated through the tough times, whether it’s a wall in your run or in your training. As an endurance athlete, you see a lot of highs and lows, and it can be hard to remember that things will get better. On the same token, when you’re experiencing a high, you have to be ready for th e low that is sure to come.

Sometimes, when you’re in a tough spot, you start to second-guess yourself and your training. You really have to want it if you want to succeed in this sport. Training hard gives me the chance to purify myself and come out stronger than before.

Nathan Hangen