Last weekend 40 runners attempted to complete the Barkley Marathons, a 100 mile run with a 60 hour time limit that only 15 people have completed in the race’s 30 year history. Gary Robbins was on track to be the 16th finisher and the first Canadian to finish the race. After running nearly 60 hours, Robbins got lost in the fog and confused in his weariness. After realizing his mistake, he made an adjustment to his route which he wrote about on his blog as he:
bushwhacked down the mountain at breakneck speed and I found myself at a large river. The river was maybe fifteen feet wide and absolutely raging from all the rain we were experiencing. I took one step off the river bank and was already chest deep. I would never have made the decision to attempt to swim such waters under anything other than a highly sleep deprived and stressed state of mind.
Despite this courageous effort, Robbins reached the finish line six seconds late and having cut two miles off the course. He collapsed soaking wet at the finish line, heroic but not credited as a finisher. Watch video here:
It is moments like this that make sports compelling. Examples of overcoming difficult obstacles demonstrate the power of the human spirit that serve as an inspiration to all of us.
While I enjoy sports, and especially my sport of running, I don’t have to turn on ESPN to find examples of perseverance. All I have to do is step outside my office door.
Every day I hear people talk of being blessed despite living under the weight of poverty. This week I have seen people who work hard among limited opportunities, who have overcome cancer, and who choose each day not to use despite the pull of addiction.
This week I have heard people say: ” I don’t worry about me no more, “You give up or you fight,” “I’ve been sad long enough, it is time to be happy”.
These are the voices that inspire me most, these are the examples of perseverance that have pushed through more than cardio exhaustion or muscle pain, these are my true heroes.
On Saturday I will be running in a 12 hour race, the 1 Day for the KIA. I know that the majority of the run is going to hurt. After 20 miles, it will all be pain. In the moments when I dig deep to find an inner strength it won’t be the example of an athlete that I look to, but it will be the names and faces of those who have shown me what it looks like to push through struggle even when there is no trophy on the other side.