In 1985, my college cross-country coach competed in the Ironman in Hawaii. As a motivational opportunity before a big race, he shared pictures and clips of his race and others including Julie Moss’ “crawl of fame” from 1982. Leading the Ironman, but her body shutting down, Moss collapsed repeatedly in the final 100 yards. Waving off well-meaning spectators, Moss was passed less than 30 yards from the finish. No longer in first place, but determined to finish, Moss crawled the final 30 yards. The sheer personal determination and single-minded focus she demonstrated forever changed my mental attitude. ‘Never give up’.
In 1994, I earned the right to compete at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii against such greats as Dave Scott and Greg Welch. True, I was hours behind the leaders at the finish, but the year leading up to and including the event changed my life. Having experienced firsthand the pain and thrill of the Hawaiian coastline I can say that it was not the beauty of the moment that takes my breath away, but the pride and satisfaction of having met the challenge and persevered.
Every single one of us has gone into situations in which we knew we would be challenged. New job, new baby, new marriage, new house. The challenge itself is not what makes the event noteworthy. It’s how we come out of the challenge that counts. Julie Moss crawled her way through her challenge. No longer set to win the crown, her legacy has been to show us what we can do when we never give up. Next time we have that seemingly insurmountable road ahead, we can draw strength from our heroes and create our own legacy of success. Who will look at us and be inspired to ‘never give up’? That is the challenge I hope we all rise up to meet.
Send me your stories of athletes who inspired you. Please share your events that can help make your coworker or spouse or stranger be better today than they were yesterday.