There is somethingspectacular about the end of a race. That final stretch with the grass orcarpet under worn out takkies, the deafening cheer of the crowd, desperatebanging on railings, urging you through to the finish line. The encouragementof the commentator welcoming you in, the clock above the finish line recordingyour time. It is a moment of intensity, of jubilation, of triumph. It is amoment I have watched over and over again – whether at a Comrades marathon, aniron man, the Maccabi games, or a 70.3 event. In that moment, in that wondrousmoment, anything is possible and the thought of signing up for an eventyourself is so compelling you can see yourself crossing that finish line.
But whatone doesn’t get to see in that moment are the hours it took to get there. Thedetermination to set an ambitious goal and achieve it. The discipline it tookto participate, the effort it took to complete it. The optimism required toachieve it.
I have had the privilege of watching my dad do this over andover again. 14 comrades marathons – 5 of them with a blind runner; too manymarathons and half marathons to count, a Maccabi triathlon, half marathon andMaccabi man and numerous iron Men and 70.3’s. I haven’t just seen the finishline. I have seen the early mornings, 4am runs, often in the dark. 3 hourcycles through the cradle of Human kind dodging snakes and bizarre wildlife.
Swims in contaminated lakes and ponds. Hours and hours on a compu-trainer ortreadmill. This picture means so much to me because while you may just see aman running I see my dad’s tenacity, optimism, effort, and which is tremendousand quite frankly far more inspiring than that fantastic finish line thispicture represents all the life lessons my dad and his crazy regime have taughtme. Lesson one is: When it’s not about YOU, it becomes easier toachieve. Jonny Dimas is a colouredblind runner with whom my dad has often run the comrades marathon.
A number ofyears ago, another guide was meant to take Jonny through the Comrades as my dadhad been injured and wasn’t fit enough. On the day of this most challengingultra-marathon, the guide took ill, leaving Jonny without a guide and the onlyoption of dropping out of the race. Despite his concerns around fitness, my dadtook Jonny through the race. Suddenly, it wasn’t about him or his injury or hispersonal requirements – suddenly it was about Jonny.
The important task of getting someone else throughthe race is what propelled him up the hills, through the valleys and to theeventual finish line. In fact his completion time was probably worse than inprevious races but the sense of humility and resultant reward was far greater. The second lesson I have learnt is the importance of disciplineand effort and the importance of setting a goal. My dad has followed aregimented training schedule for every single event in which he hasparticipated.
I’m not sure how he does it but somehow he manages to balance thedemands of 6 kids, family, his business, his community work and his trainingschedule and to do so with enjoyment and appreciation. This intense disciplinehas taught me that talent counts for much less than hard work and effort. Eachyear, my dad painstakingly evaluates the various sporting events – their valueto his training schedule and the impact on his other commitments. Setting adefined, ambitious goal and making it known evokes a fear of loss aversionwhich 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. Youcannot overcome an obstacle if you don’t believe in possibilities and youcannot achieve a goal if you don’t believe it to be doable.
Optimism is probablythe most important character trait or element required to push the boundariesand go beyond the realm of possibility. Whatever the event, I have watched mydad, time and again approach a race with absolute resolve. 4 years ago, hecompleted the Boston marathon unbeknown to him – with a torn meniscus. Despitethe 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 theroad that it took to get there.
Waking up early in the morning, on windingpaths, 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 afterthe sun set, the sound in one’s ears of wind and thoughts and dreams, thereality of the journey, the hope of the destination…. And that’s just to get tothe start!