It’s not how you start that counts

The excitement was palpable. Adrenaline pumping, fuelling enthusiastic chatter. All around happy faces, laughing and joking. Anticipation.
An expectant hush falls, all listening for a sound… that sound… BANG!

The starter’s gun fired and, as one, the crowd leapt to their feet unleashing a wall of sound that engulfed the athletes.

One stutterers, stumbling. Gasps. Cries gave way to screams, composure forgotten, “Keep going! Keep going!”
Focus. Regain composure. There’s work to do; the race is not over yet.

Runners on the road

Life has frequently been likened to a race. But whilst we can easily imagine the entirety of a 100m sprint, a marathon is a more apt metaphor. In a sprint one mistake can cost everything. A marathon is about persevering.

Every year my brother-in-law runs the Comrades marathon. You might already be thinking he’s insane, but it’s worse; it’s not a marathon. It’s a double-marathon. To make matters still worse, this is not a flat race, it takes in several massive hills during the 56 miles between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

The Comrades may be a better picture of life than any other marathon. It is a race, but it’s not “every man for himself.” Its very name gives a flavour of the race, with camaraderie, selflessness, dedication, perseverance, and ubuntu describing the spirit of the race. It is not uncommon to see athletes helping each other along the route.

But like all races, you don’t get awarded a medal for starting well; it’s how you finish that counts.

You are surrounded by a great crowd of supporters. Some are running alongside you, many have completed their race. Each one is cheering for you, urging you on, to do your best, to finish well.

Whatever set-backs you may have faced in your race, it’s not over yet. There is still time to make it right, to get back on track and to finish well.

And whilst you’re running, look out for those around you that would appreciate a little help or encouragement along the way. This life is a race we all can win if we have the support we need.

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