Six-year-old competes against world’s best at XTERRA race
KAPALUA – The purity of the upbringing of six-year-old Irie Burk Thomas is unmistakable. Raised in a vegan-based, commercial-free environment, this West Side youngster has risen to a lifestyle pathway of unique and inspirational levels.
Last month, the “Renaissance little man” competed in his third XTERRA event, the Hula Grill 5K Trail Run, and finished 238 of 432 in his third effort in this race series considered to be the toughest course in the world.
In finishing in the middle of the pack of the race, which included runners ten times his age, Irie completed his trifecta after riding his balance bike in 2016, and then riding his electric dirtbike in last year’s race.
Guided by educator parents Tara Burk, a former professional snowboarder and now a marathoner, and Erin Thomas, an all-around athlete who played collegiate football, young Irie has been nurtured within a plant-based diet and to enjoy books, art, nature and athletic activity that includes gymnastics, bodysurfing and dirtbike riding to go along with his running endeavors.
Although he contracted a staph infection two weeks before this year’s run that limited his preparation for the competition, Irie stepped up to compete with the best in the world.
He continues to grow in a clean, fresh home environment that naturally coincides with the culture of Maui Nei. He is the youngest in his first grade class at Maui Preparatory Academy.
“We have made a conscious effort to invest in our son,” said Thomas.
“We took the first three years of his life off to raise him and to give ‘little man’ the opportunity to be free, to have peace, to live outside of Babylon, yet still be able to navigate reality.”
Indeed, this family represents a unique and refreshing parenting methodology based on a holistic pathway.
It is left of the norm, yet seems to coincide succinctly with the cherished Hawaiian philosophy of malama pono – to nurture in a motherly way that which is good and righteous.