This weekend I was privy to a front row view of possibly the most inspirational athletic event in the world: the Ironman. Ironman Texas, a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run in the humid Texan heat, for a total of 140.6 miles, was a event of a lifetime to watch. The entire day I was witness to raw human emotion expressed so physically and so unreservedly that I couldn’t help but feel like I was taking part in a celebration of human life and human determination much greater than I have ever experienced.
Triathlon doesn’t build character, it reveals it. Participants start their journey at 7am and have 17 hours, until midnight to finish. And what a journey it is.
I was lucky enough at the end of the day to get a front row spot a few hundred yards in front of the finish line, right at the point where the competitors turned their final corner and got their first glimpse of the spectacle and celebration that is the finish. Tears, smiles, and looks of disbelief overwhelmed the racers as they were less than a minute away from accomplishing the athletic journey of a lifetime. The air was saturated with uncontrolled emotion and celebration. The ecstasy, disbelief and pure joy that poured through the athletes’ eyes as they were finally within eye sight of the finish line was among the most beautiful things I have ever seen in the world.
Mitch Thrower once said that “the fountain of youth is movement,” and well, the Ironman proves it. Last night, in 16 hours and 33 minutes, a 70 year old man from Ontario, Canada became an Ironman. That man feels and moves younger than most 30 year olds could even imagine. This is what the Ironman is all about — and what the official motto is — “anything is possible.” And, anything is.
Do not stop believing that you can do anything, for, as 2,700 courageous Ironman athletes showed me last night, anything is possible. It’s not the speed that matters, it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey that takes one there. Do not rush your journey. Enjoy it. Savor the tough parts. Know that there will be pain. Take your time, and know that you can do anything you set your mind to; this is character revealed.
It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.