The Eppie’s Great Race claims itself as the world’s oldest marathon, and I’ll not dispute that. It’s a fun event, with a run-bike-paddle lineup that throws a curveball at the average athlete. Many times, I’ve seen really elite athletes with respectable biking and running skills borrow their friend’s “fastest” kayak, only to discover that the skinny little surfski they borrowed is like trying to ride a unicycle. They fumble and wobble their way downriver, only to arrive at the finish line with wobbly legs and unable to run the last 50 feet to the finish line.
This year, I stood in the river, taking photos of the first ones to arrive. The first finisher in the race was well ahead of the rest of the pack. But the second finisher (who came in at least 6 minutes after the first), was my hero…. I don’t know who he was. But he paddled hard right to the finish, then did a fairly inelegant dismount from his long boat with a splash into the shallow water. He scrambled back up, and with a gait that was characteristic of a stroke victim, he wobbled his way up to the finish line.
Facing adversity and taking on a challenge is what made me admire him in that very instant.