The Wrightsville Beach Marathon was envisioned by local running coach, Tom Clifford in 2009. The race has since become a March staple here in Wilmington, North Carolina and is recognized as one of the best marathon and half-marathon events in the region drawing over two thousand participants from all walks of life to convene on our beautiful, coastal town.
This year, I will do something uncharacteristic of myself: I will experience the event from the other side. Rather than participate, I will become a spectator.
There’s something deeply inspiring about watching people run down their goals–one step at a time. And these aren’t professional athletes or superstars, these are everyday people, caught in the midst of family struggles, business pursuits, and personal tragedy, yet making a decision to run anyway.
They’ve placed a challenge in front of themselves and they’re carrying it out until completion.
It reminds me of a quote from Nietzsche:
“He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.”
Every participant has a different, Why?
Some run for the competition. Others run to lose weight. Some run in the memory of a loved one. Others for a charitable cause. This is their Why.
And their Why is strong because they have to bear the How.
What most people don’t realize is that race day is the culmination of months of training. And training is hard. It requires discipline, commitment, and persistence. There are many times in the middle of a training schedule where a runner asks, “Why in the world am I doing this?”
I’ll guarantee you that there was a point-in-time, probably multiple, throughout their training when they wanted to quit. The pain in their aching muscles or the challenge of time management led them to become discouraged.
Friends jokingly said, “Better you than me” which offered no consolation or encouragement at all. Yet, somehow, these people continued.
Their Why drove them onward.
So they made a choice, a choice not to listen to that noise, that negative voice.
They made a choice to continue.
This year, I know so many people with different Whys. Their stories are inspiring and they encourage me so much because they speak of the journey we all walk, or run, in life.
It is true that life is difficult and full of challenges. We all run our proverbial races. Sometimes, there is a pressure to look around us and see how we’re doing. Truthfully, there are many who are faster than us, so we push harder. If we’re not careful, we’ll fall into the comparison trap.
This year’s race shares with us a great life lesson.
The majority of the runners won’t win the race, but that was never the point. They will run the best race they can. They will give it all they’ve got. They will achieve their Why.
When they crossed the finish line, they will be filled with joy, knowing that they have left it all out there.
That’s the point.
If we can lay our heads down every night knowing that we’ve given our best effort, we can cross the day’s finish line with the same joy and pride.
So, find your Why and start running.
And while you’re running, don’t forget to cheer someone else on.
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About the Author
Matt Ham is dedicated to guiding others toward rich living. His own experiences have led him to the understanding and freedom of a rich life, and through his RICH Principles he helps folks uncover true richness, identifying real treasure and discovering true joy and contentment.
You can order a limited hardback version of the book at www.redefinerich.com
To contact Matt, visit www.mattham.com/speaking