Wednesday, December 17, 2008
In southern Greece there exists a small ancient town called Marathon. Here, in 490 BC the Athenians fought and won a pivotal battle against the Persians. To announce this victory a Greek messenger by the name of Pheidippides ran from the battle site in Marathon all the way to Athens, a distance of approximately 26miles. Upon arrival in Athens he passed the victorious message to the people by yelling “Nenikekiman” (we have won). This historical battle in Marathon gave rise to the eventual triumph of the Greeks and has since provided the inspiration to the modern day long-distance foot race known as The Marathon.
The first marathon was during the Olympics in 1896 and not until 1921 was it officially standardized to be a distance of 26miles, 385yards or 42.195km. Today there are close to 800 worldwide marathons each year that attract millions of people with varying physical capabilities. Over the past year I have watched 3 marathons and watching a marathon is nothing short of inspirational. Seeing the elite participants sprinting to the finish line in record times is just as incredible as seeing the individual finish after spending eight plus hours walking the course. In both cases I see people challenging themselves to be the best they can be. It is this display of not only the enduring physical capacities but also the mental stamina that one must possess or create in order to get to the finish that is very uplifting to the spirit. Imagine the elite athletes who spend years if not most of their lives training so that they may have a chance to win and make a living at doing so. It is not any easier for these genetically gifted individuals to reach the finish line than it is for the novice or first time runner. Just as hard as the professional marathoner has to work at achieving greatness the amateur marathon participant has to work sometimes as hard to complete a marathon.
I watched a man from Kenya win the Vancouver Marathon. Seeing the speed his body possessed and the humble desire deep in his eyes as he ran by at a speed of 5min a mile made the hair on my body stand. I thought how great it would be to push myself in an area of my life that I can be the best at. I took this feeling of inspiration with me into life and let it fuel the fires of passion within. In Victoria I watched a man who was close to 250lbs and at an age of 50 finish the Marathon in 7hrs. As he power-walked to the finish line he had the smile of winning on his face and his fists pumped in the air victoriously. His energy and sense of accomplishment made me smile with the thought that I will not go out into this world thinking I cannot do something just because most would probably doubt me or worse that I would even doubt myself. I followed up on my thoughts with positive affirmations saying "I am strong mentally and physically and I am confident that I can take on these great challenges of life just like the 2 hr or 7hr finisher".
I write this blog from Hawaii after doing the Honolulu marathon. Yesterday I spoke with a gentleman 73 years of age. He did the marathon in about 8hrs and was happy to know he still is able to use his body for such physical feats. For every 10steps he ran he would walk 5steps. I also met an 8year old Japanese child who ran the marathon with his mother. I photographed them and the child proud for doing his first marathon took a bite out of his medal. Even to a child, a marathon represents personal victory that tastes that good!
All the finishers are inspirational and have proven that they can do it. I hope they know how they make people feel who are watching them and that they realize time in most cases (unless being pro) does not matter as long as you cross the finish line with your personal sense of achievement. Because a marathon isn't easy and all who complete them should be proud! Most people who are doing marathons are far from elite. They are normal people whose lives probably do not support their marathon pursuit yet they want more from life. They want challenge, they want to set examples, they want to be their best, they want to prove they can do it, they want to inspire, they want to know they are strong and more than capable to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve in life. That is the beautiful thing about marathon and the people who do them – they are their own personal heralds yelling out to the world at the finish line saying how victorious they are.