Sunday, September 29, 2013

It Had To Happen!

I have been affected by illness, less than two weeks out from the Big Dance. I suspected that I might succumb to it, eventually, considering I had my several sick or convalescing students in class for the past four weeks. I reason that I should get sick, then recover in time for my 226km triathlon in Kailua-Kona. My premature taper has begun, yet I am treating 12 October as another hard hit or assessment of my athletic abilities against/with some of the harshest conditions known in the history of the sport. Heat, humidity, strong winds, and other punishing conditions can take its toll on any athlete's body, at any time.

The holy grail of long-distance triathlon is an elusive one; like the Boston Marathon is to marathoners. Gifted, hardworking and dedicated age-groupers attain triathlon nirvana by winning a podium position, and subsequently, a possible slot in the 35-year-old Ironman triathlon born in Hawaii. I respect and admire the age-groupers who earned their slots the hardest possible way. They are a coterie of the finest athletes, carved from determination, tenacity, resilience, courage and many other empowering values. I personally know many who have worked their way to the watery, deep, start-line at Kailua-Pier.

Nevertheless, those who attained their special slots by way of lottery, charity or vote also deserve our praise. It is so easy to be elitist and frown on those who got their entry by the 'easy way' in. The lottery is an opportunity for the Everyday Man who dreamt about completing an Ironman on the mythical and mystical island of Hawaii. They still need to do their hard-yards - hardened by hours of swimming, cycling and running - to earn their rightful place alongside serious contenders. Every participant has their place in the 'food-chain' or 'eco-system' of the race. I reckon it is a sport that expresses respect, recognition and reassurance of the highest order. We embrace each other as much as we embrace our lives.
John Collins, co-founder of Ironman said: 'Swim 2.4 miles, ride 112 miles, and then run a full marathon. A chance to brag for life!' These words amy seen shallow and fallow to non-participants, but for many it is akin to a game of life-and-death, where personal failure packs a painful punch. Endurance sports is the true test of one's determination and athletic ability. 

All the best to those doing this year's edition of Ironman World Championships at Kailua-Kona. I salute those who attempted and completed before us. You inspired us forwards in our personal quest. We hope to do, likewise, in the years to come.

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