Two marathons, four stories – why running inspires me
Two of the major marathons are now done for the year (London and Boston), with Berlin, Chicago and New York still to come. From just those two alone, I've already been so inspired by so many people. I can't wait to get into proper marathon training and work my ass off. So with that said, I will present four stories of people you may or may not know, who have personally inspired me and reminded me that there are no excuses. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.
Des Linden, persistence personified
Des Linden first ran than the Boston Marathon 11 years ago, in 2007. She missed out winning by 2 seconds in 2011. She finished 4th in 2015 and 2017. This is about always training and turning up, because one day things might just change, and you might finally get the win. This year's Boston Marathon saw arguably the worst weather it's ever had. But again, Desi was there at the front, while her rivals gave up or couldn't follow. She became the first American woman to win in 33 years. People see the two and half hours it takes to run on the day, but they forget about the 11 years of trying that came before. Or rather, 11 years of learning.
Yuki Kawauchi, dedication and preparation
“Within 5km, or maybe 10km, someone is going to hand this gentleman a piano to carry”, said the ignorant American commentator who had no idea a) who Kawauchi was, or b) that he knew exactly what he was doing by starting the Boston Marathon at a high tempo. In fact, his entire race strategy was based on speeding up and slowing down. Guess what, it worked.
Kawauchi worked full time as a government employee in Japan, alongside training for the Boston Marathon. Not only that, with a full time work schedule he has managed 25 sub 2hr12 marathons (a record), and also 79 sub 2hr20 marathons (also a record). He runs only once a day, and on his days off goes on 50km jogs.
So dedication, clearly, but preparation. While others were maybe waking up hungover after a heavy night, on New Year's Day, Kawauchi was braving freezing conditions during a marathon in Marshfield, Massachusetts. The temperature? -23C. As he said after Boston, “For me these were the best conditions possible”. PS, here's a video of him running in a panda suit for fun.
Sarah Sellers, no excuses
“I don't have time”. “I'm too busy”. “I have a social life”. Excuses. In reality, the only person who is responsible is yourself. Sarah Sellers, runner up to Des Linden in the Boston Marathon works as a nurse on 12 hour shifts. She trains at 4AM or at 7PM after work. She has no sponsors or agent. She trains mostly on her own, and although she was a track star at Weber State University, she stopped running for four years after breaking her navicular bone. She only signed up for Boston because her brother was doing the race, and even paid the $180 entrance fee. She had only run one marathon in Utah prior to Boston. Need I go on? No f*cking excuses. She beat the legendary Shalane Flanagan, for God's sakes. Oh, and by the way, here are the rest of the top 5 finishers with their background. What a year.
Boston Marathon— Cross Country Probs (@CrossProb) April 18, 2018
1. Desiree Linden, first American in 33 years
2. Sarah Sellers, full-time nurse, no sponsor
3. Krista Duchene, age 41, hoped to place top3 in the masters division
4. Rachel Hyland, h.s. spanish teacher
5. Jessica Chichester, full-time nurse, no sponsor
Eliud Kipchoge, simplicity is complexity resolved
I finish with Eliud Kipchoge because even though he is the greatest marathon runner of all time, and us mere mortals cannot aspire to his feats, he is arguably the most inspirational figure of all. He won his third London Marathon on Sunday, once again outclassing the competition with an air of total inevitability.
However for me his inspiration comes not just from his achievements, but perhaps even more so from how he lives his life. The ultimate simplicity, the ultimate focus. Eat, sleep, run. So far from the high tech setting of the Nike complex in Oregon, he trains in rural Kenya, like so many runners. He does daily chores along with all of his teammates, with whom he shares a house which only just has electricity.
We get so caught up with phones, social media and all the additional crap that daily life brings. As much as I strive to be like Kipchoge, it is incredibly difficult. But it contributes hugely to his success, without a doubt. Every day I wake up and a try, and hopefully at some point I will reach a similar state in life. Huge respect.