Dare Mighty Things

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My final words to our Sparkin' Hood to Coast team:

Good evening my friends. I can hardly believe that we have made it to this point. In just a few short hours we will gather together to head up beautiful Mt. Hood where we will begin our 197-mile descent to the Pacific Ocean.

There are many ways to begin this speech. I considered the gladiator’s words: “Hail Caesar! We who are about to die salute you.” And some of you may decide at this time on Saturday, that those are the most appropriate words to describe Hood to Coast.

But that’s not what I want to say.

Tonight I want to remind us of the value of friendship, the importance of effort, and the sure victory that comes with trying.

Starting tomorrow morning at 5 a.m. and continuing until 5:15 on Saturday afternoon, we are going to be privileged to spend nearly 36 hours crammed into two increasingly smaller and smellier vehicles with 14 of the most wonderful friends we will ever have. We will learn each others’ quirks and funny ways. We will tell and hear stories. We will sing and cheer and snore together. We will nap on each others’ shoulders. We will examine blisters and offer KT tape advice. We will pass the Advil and the chocolate milk. We will laugh. We will cry. And although we will not be the #1 Mixed Submasters team on the road, we will finish Hood to Coast.

And when it’s all over and we head our separate ways we will know the truth of Emil Zatopek’s words: “Great is the victory, but the friendship of all is greater.”

Now I know some of you, who shall remain nameless, are a tad bit competitive. And others of you are so laid back and west coast that you would be doing this if there was no finish line to cross. But each one of us, just by virtue of signing up and training for Hood to Coast, have made our stand. We have declared that we believe that win or lose, effort – hard work – giving 110% - is worth all of the pain and sweat and tears and injuries we have and will endure.

Steve Prefontaine, Pre, is famous for saying “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” Tomorrow each one of us is going to have at least one opportunity to give our best, and lay claim to the gift of running and comradeship that Hood to Coast offers. It may be when you run down that incredible hill. Or when you have to face a mountain to climb up. It might be the dark of night or when you discover you are running totally alone in the forest. Your opportunity to find and give your best may be in the heat of the afternoon. Or after a ridiculously abbreviated night’s sleep. Or on an unhappy stomach. With a cramp or a blister or a stitch in your side.

Whatever the situation, I can guarantee each one of us will be given at least one bright shining moment when we are faced with the question – will I give this my all or will I settle for good enough? My wish for each one of us is the courage to dig deeper and find out just how great we truly are.

We have friendship. We have effort. And finally I want to talk about victory.

As I already said, we are not going to win any speed awards. But each one of us as individuals and all of us as a team, including our drivers, our cheerleaders, our ghosties, and our invaluable volunteers will end this race as victors.

I am not talking about the kindergarten, everybody-gets-a-ribbon-for-tr
ying kind of victory. No, I am talking about the victory that we earn because we have set ourselves to attempt something that others look at and wonder. We are willingly putting our bodies and minds to the test – can we endure? can we hold together? will our bodies work with us or against us? will the effort, the mighty struggle, prove too much for our minds? will we become so exhausted that we are unable to get out of the van for that last leg?

I know that you all are experienced runners. You have run 5Ks and 10Ks half marathons and full marathons galore. Some of you have discovered that you possess a sixth or even seventh gear. But none of you has ever attempted anything like Hood to Coast.

Tomorrow we will all dare mighty things, risking failure, and braving much suffering, so that we can emerge victorious. So many are content to sit and watch, but not us. For us, we must make the attempt so that we can achieve the victory.

Theodore Roosevelt, describing his do-or-die way of living, said:

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

Dare mighty things.
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