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Rock Street, San Francisco

 There is something
spectacular about the end of a race. That final stretch with the grass or
carpet under worn out takkies, the deafening cheer of the crowd, desperate
banging on railings, urging you through to the finish line. The encouragement
of the commentator welcoming you in, the clock above the finish line recording
your time. It is a moment of intensity, of jubilation, of triumph. It is a
moment I have watched over and over again – whether at a Comrades marathon, an
iron man, the Maccabi games, or a 70.3 event. In that moment, in that wondrous
moment, anything is possible and the thought of signing up for an event
yourself is so compelling you can see yourself crossing that finish line. But what
one doesn’t get to see in that moment are the hours it took to get there. The
determination to set an ambitious goal and achieve it. The discipline it took
to participate, the effort it took to complete it. The optimism required to
achieve it.

 I have had the privilege of watching my dad do this over and
over again. 14 comrades marathons – 5 of them with a blind runner; too many
marathons and half marathons to count, a Maccabi triathlon, half marathon and
Maccabi man and numerous iron Men and 70.3’s. I haven’t just seen the finish
line. I have seen the early mornings, 4am runs, often in the dark. 3 hour
cycles through the cradle of Human kind dodging snakes and bizarre wildlife.
Swims in contaminated lakes and ponds. Hours and hours on a compu-trainer or
treadmill. This picture means so much to me because while you may just see a
man running I see my dad’s tenacity, optimism, effort, and which is tremendous
and quite frankly far more inspiring than that fantastic finish line this
picture represents all the life lessons my dad and his crazy regime have taught
me.

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 Lesson one is: When it’s not about YOU, it becomes easier to
achieve. Jonny Dimas is a coloured
blind runner with whom my dad has often run the comrades marathon. A number of
years ago, another guide was meant to take Jonny through the Comrades as my dad
had been injured and wasn’t fit enough. On the day of this most challenging
ultra-marathon, the guide took ill, leaving Jonny without a guide and the only
option of dropping out of the race. Despite his concerns around fitness, my dad
took Jonny through the race. Suddenly, it wasn’t about him or his injury or his
personal requirements – suddenly it was about Jonny.  The important task of getting someone else through
the race is what propelled him up the hills, through the valleys and to the
eventual finish line. In fact his completion time was probably worse than in
previous races but the sense of humility and resultant reward was far greater.

 The second lesson I have learnt is the importance of discipline
and effort and the importance of setting a goal. My dad has followed a
regimented training schedule for every single event in which he has
participated. I’m not sure how he does it but somehow he manages to balance the
demands of 6 kids, family, his business, his community work and his training
schedule and to do so with enjoyment and appreciation. This intense discipline
has taught me that talent counts for much less than hard work and effort. Each
year, my dad painstakingly evaluates the various sporting events – their value
to his training schedule and the impact on his other commitments. Setting a
defined, ambitious goal and making it known evokes a fear of loss aversion
which propels him forward to attain it.

And finally, he has taught me the power of a positive attitude.
You cannot build for a better future if you don’t believe there is one. You
cannot overcome an obstacle if you don’t believe in possibilities and you
cannot achieve a goal if you don’t believe it to be doable. Optimism is probably
the most important character trait or element required to push the boundaries
and go beyond the realm of possibility. Whatever the event, I have watched my
dad, time and again approach a race with absolute resolve. 4 years ago, he
completed the Boston marathon unbeknown to him – with a torn meniscus. Despite
the pain, his positivity was unwavering!

Yes, these is something spectacular about the end of the race.
But what makes that finish line so wondrous, so tremendously triumphant is the
road that it took to get there. Waking up early in the morning, on winding
paths, through the valleys, up the hills, on desolate roads, over highways,
round the mountains, in the water, out the water, before the sun rose and after
the sun set, the sound in one’s ears of wind and thoughts and dreams, the
reality of the journey, the hope of the destination…. And that’s just to get to
the start!

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