Greatness has no time limit.
This quote isn't mine, but one that continues to inspire me after seeing it at the 35km mark of the London Marathon earlier this year. Completely spent - I let go of chasing a 'time', realising greatness was about so much more...
This time last weekend - the photo above was taken, of Caroline Ashby moments after crossing the line, at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, watching the best of the best push themselves beyond. And it couldn't be a more fitting quote as I reflect on the performances and stories I came across.
Greatness isn't about a time or a place.
- an 85 year old not making the bike cut off, yet vowing to come back again next year at 86
- a hot favourite for the podium stopped by severe back pain, seemingly out of the race & out of contention - yet choosing to honour the race & finish anyway
- spending 10 years trying to qualify for Kona, narrowly missing out (again!), yet choosing to come & support her sister fulfil her own dreams
- building a damn to swim in when a pool is nowhere close...
- losing 12 minutes+ with a flat tyre on the bike, then powering through the marathon to move from 30th to 18th, so much so her body needs 2 hours of attention in the medical tent afterwards
- feeling a torn hamstring on the swim, even more intensely on the 180km ride - then nursing it (a torn hamstring!) through an entire marathon... to complete Kona #10!
- a wife tragically losing her husband just 4 weeks earlier & choosing to race as planned...
- a wife believing 'you're better than this' - as a sole survivor of 29 US Marines killed in Iraq, battled for 10 years through PTSD with depression & addictions, to find a passion for triathlon & discover the deep well of joy that sits just below the pain - honouring his mates by racing Kona with them on his top
- stopping on the bike course to give someone CPR for 7 minutes - saving their life
- a guy about to do his 24th Kona, having to make the tough decision of not racing as he was stuck down with Malaria just days out
- the World Champ choosing to use his acceptance speech to thank a guy who yelled out 'Jonny is with you' at the 5km mark, referring to a kid from his home town with Leukaemia who raised money for a charity called 'you have to fight' - the impact of which spurred him on the entire marathon
These are but a fraction of the stories of 'greatness' I came across at the Ironman World Champs. None of them have anything to do with a time nor a place.
As with life, greatness in racing is not all about a time nor a place... it's embracing the journey without knowing what might come of it... it's about giving it your all in each moment of each day... it's leaning on the wonderful support you have around you... it's about the countless volunteers who make events like this even possible... and the family members who find it so hard to watch, yet choose to support you, unconditionally.
It's to inspire and be inspired. It's doing what you do - that can inspire those around you.
There is greatness in all of us. Those who make it to the start line & those who don't. Those who make it to the finishing line & those who didn’t. Those on the course & those on the side lines.
See what 'time limits' you can let go of this week - to make way for more greatness, just waiting to be beckoned...