Endurance Cartel podcast

#007 - Put Out The “Mind FIRE” with Fireman Robert Verhelst, | 9/11 Search And Rescue and Mental Endurance.

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Robert Verhelst joins today’s episode of the Endurance Cartel Podcast to talk about the importance of inspiring others through inspiring ourselves to do the impossible, and the impact it can have on our mental health.


Robert Verhelst, famously known by the name of Fireman Rob, is a powerful storyteller with a one-of-a-kind story. From multiple years in the fire service to achieving a Guinness World Record, surviving on Discovery Channel's show Ultimate Ninja Challenge and doing search and recovery following the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, his belief in doing the impossible keeps him moving forward in life. Becoming a firefighter for Robert came naturally, as he always wanted to help people through a dynamic job that needed perseverance and endurance.  


We talk about how his firefighting career gave him the right mindset to achieve bigger goals, and how these goals in turn became a beacon of inspiration for the next dreamers to carry on. We also cover how to identify mental health issues and how to tackle them through endurance sports.



In today’s episode:


(01:04) Our guest, Rob Fireman, keynote speaker and endurance athlete with a crazy record.

(2:00) The reason behind becoming a firefighter and the passion for helping others.

(4:18) Having expectations before getting into firefighting and how they changed with time.

(5:35) Accumulating unprocessed traumatic events and how it adds up to affect our mental health

(8:00) Rob Fireman considers endurance sports like triathlons a therapy and a great way to enhance mental health. 

(11:00) Finding our passions in our strengths and how it can effectively inspire others

(13:00) The first man to ever do an Ironman with his firefighting gear.

(16:15) How did firefighting training help in achieving great success in endurance sports?

(20:00) The high levels of stress that come with Rob Fireman’s lifestyle and challenges.

(22:00) The importance of a support structure in achieving goals and objectives.

(25:25) Working for a greater good and the need to give back to the community after the 9/11 event

(30:05) What role does therapy play in our life and how unique is everyone’s mental health situation?

(40:20) Endurance sports can make us feel superhuman sometimes and give us the mental resilience to tackle life’s problems

(43:17) Who inspired Robert to become Rob Fireman?

(47:00) Advice from Rob Fireman to start your journey

(50:00) The requirements and sacrifices needed for a firefighting journey

(53:00) Rob Fireman considering another endurance challenge




“If you have to ask why you’re doing something, you’ll never truly understand. Do it yourself!”


“Our limitations are not time, our limitations are beliefs…. I wasn’t out there to finish on time, I was out there to help people believe that everything is possible…You have to feel it to truly believe in yourself”.


“Everybody thinks I must have such mental strength. Yeah, I do but I’m also human! There are moments when I think why am I doing this, this is dumb!”


“ Everybody on that scene was going for the ultimate purpose of helping humanity, helping other people. It didn’t matter what, you asked for a task, whether it was being a tunnel rat or mapping out search and rescue… it didn’t matter as nobody hesitated to say yes I’ll do that….That to me is something that we’re missing right now”.


“Realizing the perspective of what you’re capable of is probably the most important thing to do before engaging in something…And perspective change…You can change your perspective,”.



 “In an endurance event, I always say my finish line is a mile out because that’s where you feel the power of what that day was”


“You get one chance at this thing called life and trust me it is something that will beat you to your knees, but also something great. You have the opportunity to make the journey that you want”


Links selected from this episode


  • Ironman- a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.9 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.2 km) bicycle ride, and a marathon 26.22-mile (42.2 km) run
  • 9/11 attacks – a series of four plane suicide attacks on the United States in Washington DC.



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