I was very fortunate to go to Kona, Hawaii and do some media work at the Ironman World Championships a few weeks ago. This has to be one of the worlds most amazing sporting events. Over 2000 of the fittest people you could imagine put themselves in this furnace of an Island to face the test of swimming 3.8k, biking 180k and then running the full marathon distance of just over 42k!
Ironman, like a lot of endurance sports, has a slight deranged appeal to it. At the world champs the deranged aspect propagates. You get a sense that to the athletes the harder the race is the more appealing it is. These people want to face the toughest conditions, they want to face that moment where every ounce of your mind, body and soul is telling you to give up. It’s in this moment that they get to reveal to themselves who they really are.
Sitting down next to the finishers after the race I got to hear all types of astounding scenarios of trying to overcome that moment. What I found most interesting was that nearly everyone I talked to had lost the battle in some way, some big, some small. It wasn’t that they’d had terrible races but they knew that this race had still beaten them, they knew their was a better version of themselves still out there.
This is why I have so much respect for endurance athletes, even after they had gone through hell, a place that 99% of the population has never been close to, they still seek to find their mental and physical nirvana.
Occasionally you see someone who has had that magical day where they revealed 100% of themselves to the race and that moment of doubt. You see it in their eyes, they might be sitting next to you but they are somewhere else. They are off in a distant place in their mind where they know deep within themselves that when the going gets tough they are going to be ok. They have learnt a level of trust in themselves that they will keep forever, that they will pull out like a mystical weapon when they have to face adversity in life.
Most people look at Endurance athletes and think that they must be crazy but when you see that look in their eyes you know it’s a journey worth exploring.
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