No, I did not win but I did compete, and I did compete with all my strength and will. There were occasions when I did win, but that was in my age category, so not really winning the race. I never ever had that distinction or pleasure.
I am not going to say, that the important thing was taking part, that is not in my nature. I was always, and still am a person who likes to give of my very best. Even when running was becoming difficult because of the pain in my ankle I was still competitive.
I might be out on a lovely run enjoying nature, listening to the birds, sensing my breathing and any twinges in my legs. Another runner might appear on the path in front of me, or worse still pass me. Immediately I would want to be on the move. I would want to catch and pass the runner in front, or stop the runner beside me from passing by picking up the speed even though it was very difficult.
My family and friends gave me a motto it said,"Thou Shalt Not Pass." If I was to have a grave stone that might find its way on to it.
I met many friends as a runner and we had our own mini race in the midst of the full race. So two races in one, me against the clock, and me against those who expected to finish around the same time as me or if they could before me.
I have never stopped to count the marathons or half marathons I ran before taking to the mountains and running up and down them. The mountains had a different challenge but it was between me and the mountain. Winning was never measured in time or place, it was enough to reach the summit and return down safely. That did not mean I did not check the watch.
So to my tale for today.
An old, fable retells the story of the young athletic boy hungry for success, for whom winning was everything and success was measured by such a result.
One day, the boy was preparing himself for a running competition in his small native village, himself and two other young boys to compete. A large crowd had congregated to witness the sporting spectacle and a wise old man, upon hearing of the little boy, had travelled far to bear witness also.
The race commenced, looking like a level heat at the finishing line, but sure enough the boy dug deep and called on his determination, strength and power .. he took the winning line and was first. The crowd was ecstatic and cheered and waved at the boy. The wise man remained still and calm, expressing no sentiment. The little boy, however. felt proud and important.
A second race was called, and two new young, fit, challengers came forward, to run with the little boy. The race was started and sure enough the little boy came through and finished first once again. The crowd was ecstatic again and cheered and waved at the boy. The wise man remained still and calm, again expressing no sentiment. The little boy, however, felt proud and important.
"Another race, another race!" pleaded the little boy. The wise old man stepped forward and presented the little boy with two new challengers, an elderly frail lady and a blind man. "What is this?", quizzed the little boy. "This is no race" he exclaimed. "Race!", said the wise man.
The race was started and the boy was the only finisher, the other two challengers left standing at the starting line. The little boy was ecstatic, he raised his arms in delight. The crowd, however, was silent showing no sentiment toward the little boy.
"What has happened? Why do the people not join in my success?" he asked the wise old man.
"Race again", replied the wise man, "...this time, finish together, all three of you, finish together" continued the wise man.
The little boy thought a little, stood in the middle of the blind man and the frail old lady, and then took the two challengers by the hand. The race began and the little boy walked slowly, ever so slowly, to the finishing line and crossed it. The crowd were ecstatic and cheered and waved at the boy. The wise man smiled, gently nodding his head. The little boy felt proud and important.
"Old man, I do not understand! Who are the crowd cheering for? Which one of us three?", asked the little boy.
The wise old man looked into the little boy's eyes, placing his hands on the boy's shoulders, and replied softly .. "Little boy, for this race you have won much more than in any race you have ever ran before, and for this race the crowd cheer not for any winner!"
To realise what is important in life, and whom are important is in fact to win the race. Keep sight of that and the race of life will go well.