Field Work Nutrition Co. is a nutrition company, yes. But if our primary objective is to create a high quality healthy product that real athletes and active people can use to fuel a healthy lifestyle, our secondary (and not far behind) objective is to build a community of these rad people doing good things for themselves and for their communities. Enter Edward Ignacio, a career law enforcement professional who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to remember and honor his Hawaiian colleagues who might have otherwise paid the ultimate price and ultimately have gone uncelebrated.
Ed is an Ironman triathlete, and in the name of raising awareness for his colleagues and his profession, has completed Ironman Hawaii (his home state) in full police tactical gear. To say this adds a level of difficulty to the hardest single day race in the world is an understatement. Keep reading to learn more about Ed, the work that he has done, and how and why he is making Hawaii a healthier state along the way.
Can you give us a little of your personal background?
I grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii. I am married with a 9 year old son. My family members are known as being civil servants (Policemen, Fireman, Military). I have been in Law Enforcement for 25 years, first as a Police Officer in Hawaii, and for the past 18 years as an FBI agent. I am on the Board of Directors for the Hawaii Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation, a race director, Law Enforcement Endurance Team manager/trainer and Triathlete.
How did you get involved in triathlon, what about the sport drew you to it?
I grew up around the Ironman World Championships in Kona. I swam, ran track and cross country in high school, but it never really clicked about doing triathlons. When I got into the FBI, I left Hawaii for 9 years, upon my return home one of my responsibilities was overseeing the FBI's security planning at Ironman World Championships. After being intimately involved with the process, it finally clicked that I have missed my calling, so at 42, I started to race and fell in love with the sport and everyone around it. The positive vibe, constantly pushing yourself and those around you to do better. I am hooked.
How did you get involved in law enforcement, and what kind of overlap do you see between serving your community and competing in triathlon? Can you talk a little bit about specifically what you do?
Law Enforcement is in my blood. Both my Father and Brother were also in Law Enforcement. In Law Enforcement, you are always in the public eye, and you should hold yourself to a higher standard to be an example. Hawaii is a small place, and because of the way I race and how I try to use my love for triathlon as a platform for charity, I am well known in our community. This gives me the ability to have a positive influence on not only the Law Enforcement Community, but the community in general for I am the blending of both. I am always mindful of that and try to use it in a positive light to show that first responders are part of the community, not just a uniform that shows up in times of need.
You are known for completing very high level, grueling events in full tactical gear...when did you first have this idea and why on earth do you do it?
In 2012, the State of Hawaii was the only State in the country without a Law Enforcement Memorial to honor those who have been killed in the line of duty. I was on the board and we were struggling to raise awareness and funds to build the memorial. That year, competed in Kona and Fireman Rob from Wisconsin also did the race. I saw him on the course and later watched him finish before midnight. He does it for his charity, and I thought....well why not put on my tactical gear and do the same. I contacted Rob and he was very supportive. I just started showing up at local races in gear and it grew from there. I have done several 70.3s, Kona and Xterra World Championships in my gear. By 2016, I had helped to raise over 700K and we were able to build a memorial. I now continue to fundraise to establish a scholarship fund for the families of those who have fallen. I would love to race alongside Rob one day, Kona would be awesome, to do that with him, in my home town.
Kona is arguably the hardest single day endurance event on the planet, and you decided to race it in full tactical gear. With the added weight, heat, and everything that comes with it, can you try to relate what that was actually like?
It was a great day! By the time Kona rolled around, I was really dialed in with my race plan. I had prepared well with training and nutrition. It was tough, with all the sweat from the added weight and body heat the vest and the pants get heavier the longer you are in them. When I first started doing this I dealt with a lot of cramping issues from all the water weight I would lose, but i figured it out by the time I got to Kona. I was hot and tired but loved every second of it for I was doing it for a cause I believe in and the spectators were so encouraging. Although I was out in the lava fields in darkness, I never felt alone.
Being from Hawaii, do you think you have an even stronger connection with a very special race?
The Big Island is home, so Kona will always be my favorite. The atmosphere around that event is unbelievable. I also like Xterra World Championships on Maui. Last year was the first year I did it and it was awesome. Having the two World Championships of triathlon in our state is something Hawaii is very proud of.
Like many triathletes, you are clearly driven beyond what most people even consider reasonable, and with this, have initiated some great things. Can you talk about Na Koa LinaPolu Racing Team, what it is and why you created it, and the race that you've established as well?
As I have been going along in my journey, I started to see the influence that I was having on other First Responder Professionals. I was getting contacted by the community for training advice, nutrition, what gear I use. I started training a few guys and gals, and they started to see great results and told me how it has made there lives better. I wanted to share that with as many as I could so I started a team. Not all are triathlete's, there are those that do just one of the disciplines, others who do Spartan type events, and most, who I like working with, just want to get healthy and have fun. The racing team is comprised of First Responders who compete at all levels. We have Elite level athletes on down to first timers. The mission is to compete, promote a healthier lifestyle in our profession, connect with the public and raise awareness to charity. In a little over a year, I have expanded to 70 members in 10 states and growing.
Even though at lot of your message is around law enforcement, how much of what you do is just about engaging people in healthy lifestyle, especially Hawaiians? To me, Hawaii is a bit of a tale of two cultures when it comes to being healthy. On one hand, you've to triathlon, surf culture, a lot of holistic health etc in Hawaii, but there is also a big segment of the Hawaiian population that is not very healthy. Is part of your message simply to engage some of these folks in healthy activities?
You are absolutely correct. A big part of our culture is food. Multi-ethnic dishes with large portions are the norm. The foods are flavorful, but high in fat and protein, as such we have both ends of the spectrum when it comes to health. I actually have been talking with friends and family members outside of Law Enforcement about better diets and exercise, so yes, I am extending beyond the LE community.
What are your plans for 2018, I know you've got some big events on the books so far?
I plan on competing at several local triathlon's as well as do either Calgary 70.3 or Santa Rosa 70.3. My big event for this year will be my attempt to run 78 miles on the Big Island starting in Kona and ending at the Law Enforcement Memorial in Hilo. The route will include the crossing of the road that runs through Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, Hawaii's two large dormant Volcano Mountains. I will be wearing a plate carrier and BDUs. I have also recruited another Hawaii County Police Officer who is on their Specialized Response Team to join me in gear.
What is it about Field Work Nutrition and Primo Smoothie that you feel compliments the lifestyle you live, and how do you use the product?
I feel that nutrition is the most important aspect of any training regime. I am. always searching for that perfect compliment to my diet (and I love smoothies). I heard about Field Work Nutrition from a respected friend, did some research, and coincidently Field Work was looking for members for The Swarm. Everything fell into place and now the Primo Smoothie is part of my daily diet and I love the way it tastes. A smoothie, well more than just one, will be part of my nutrition plan for my 78 mile run.
Thank you for sharing your story, Ed. We are proud to have you as part of our community and looking forward to your events in 2018!