The Boston Marathon never fails to provide a reliable, annual boost of inspiration for all who pay attention. There are so many amazing “firsts” and anniversaries, so many obstacles overcome, and so many regular people (albeit super motivated ones) who compete and succeed in finishing or even qualifying.
There’s Kathrine Switzer, who celebrated her fiftieth anniversary of running the Boston Marathon at age 70 by running again this year. As the first female Boston Marathon runner in 1967, she was forcibly almost thrown off the course when a race official tried to deter her from participating. Not only did she finish, but she proceeded to dedicate her life to empowering women in sports through the many foundations she created. In addition to being an iconic athlete, Kathrine is a marathon winner (1974, NY), TV commentator and speaker. She states:
“Running is not just about fitness and competition; it’s about changing our lives. Most of us run because it makes us feel significant, powerful, and in control, not just because we want to compete. When people who have never had a sense of accomplishment before suddenly gain it, it transforms every aspect of their lives. They become increasingly fearless. People always realize they can do more when they first do something at all. Confidence grows, and with it, so does vision.”
Just sub out the word “running” for any difficult, consistent practice you do and you’ll reap the benefits stated above.
Kathrine Switzer, age 20, being accosted by a race official in 1967
Adrianne Haslet-Davis, a dancer who was observing at the finish line when one of the bombs exploded, lost one of her legs due to a critical injury. She competed in the 2014 marathon with a prosthetic limb. Perhaps even more amazing is her return to dancing with a prosthetic limb, once again proving that if you want to achieve your life’s passion, determination may count more than the odds against you. I’ve never seen a person with a limb amputation dance, but here she is – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDbN8R6Gb6Q Adrianne Haslet-Davis running in the 2014 marathon
Marc Fucarile is an excellent example of one who will not let anything stand in the way of his goals and ambitions. A former runner, he now competes in the handcycling division as a result of losing his right leg. More on that after I speak with him this week.
Although the last person I’ll mention did not run a marathon, you’ve got to give him a pass since he was born before World War I. Fauja Singh, a former marathon runner, finished the Hong Kong Marathon’s 10-kilometer (6.25-mile) race in 1 hour, 32 minutes, 28 seconds in 2013. To read more about him, see https://www.boston.com/sports/boston-marathon/2013/02/24/oldest-marathon-runner-finishes-last-race-at-101
It’s impossible not to be inspired by people who spend time training hard regardless of obstacles. I appreciate the perspective that comes with observing other people who have overcome all kinds of adversity to make their mark, and show that life goes on, no matter what the circumstances. We can all take a page from their “surmounting all odds” playbook.
As Kathryn Switzer says, “Life is about participating, not spectating”. Last, but not least, and perhaps most important is her Rule # 1: ” Just put on your shoes and go!”