Inspirational Athletes

I really didn’t want to run today. I was tired; back-to-school week was exhausting, the weekend was hectic and I just didn’t feel like running. But I knew I had to; the half-marathon I’m training for is coming up and I need the mileage. Knowing that the week ahead is likely to bring all sorts of interference with it, I dragged myself out.

Somewhere between lacing up my shoes and the end of the first kilometre, I suddenly remembered it was the day of the Terry Fox Run and the guilt from not participating hit me. I knew about the run but I had many reasons for not doing it: I have to run 10 miles; it’s the first day of Sunday School; we recognize Terry Fox at a school run at the end of the month. So, I put Terry out of my mind and hit the pavement.

In Canada, Terry Fox is a household name. In the early eighties, he began to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. What made his story interesting is Terry was a cancer victim; as he had lost one leg to cancer a few years earlier, he was running with a prosthetic. Terry had to abandon his run when he learned that his cancer had spread and he needed to return home (to B.C.) for surgery. However, he still achieved part of his goal; he raised thousands of dollars for cancer research and, more importantly, he raised an awareness of the disease. The Terry Fox Run was established in his memory and it generates millions of dollars for cancer research each year.

I was not thinking about Terry Fox today; I was focussed on my run. As I dragged myself up the hills and into the wind on this hot Sunday afternoon, I did have many thoughts of packing it in and heading home but I stuck to my plan, determined to run my 10 miles. Hot and thirsty, I made a detour for a friend’s house so that I could get some fluids into my system and, as I headed back out, I spotted a wheelchair athlete heading towards me; he was pushing himself into the wind.

“Man, that’s tough,” I thought. I glanced at his muscular arms and thought about his legs and wondered why I had never noticed him before in the area. “What a guy.” A block later, I spotted a sign: Terry Fox Run. That made sense; he was out for Terry Fox. As I passed other runners, I wondered how many of them were also running for Terry. I thought about the man in the wheelchair again and I could not help but compare him to Terry Fox.

What power they both have; for them, every run is a battle against the terrain, the elements and their own physical limitations. Me? I have it easy; I run because I can. These guys? They run because they want to and their doing so is absolutely inspiring.

Tonight, my legs are tired and I can’t help but think about how worn Terry felt after logging 20 miles each day. And, I can not get the image of the wheelchair athlete out of my mind. Perhaps he was like me and doing his own thing; perhaps he was out for Terry Fox. Regardless, he and Terry Fox have made me realize how likely I am to be able to do what I can.

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