Tuesday, 7 June 2016

No One Remembers Who Came Second

No one remembers who came second, third, or forth for that matter. Winning is everything it seems. Too often we have a warped sense of what winning is.

I recall a conversation I had with Alex Harris a few years back when The Munga was just an idea in his head. He was adamant that only first place would get prize money. After all, he said, why celebrate mediocrity? A case of second place being the first loser.

While that might seem harsh it is the standard by which Alex measures himself. He goes into events with the intention of winning. Of being the first finisher over the line. His drive goes beyond that. He wants to beat and set new records. We watch and we applaud but also realise that he, unlike us, is a superb and dedicated athlete.

Martin Dreyer is a similar animal. He also strives to be first. The duel between Martin and Alex on the Freedom Challenge in 2012 had us watching slack-jawed — two world class athletes pushing the envelope and both intent on being first. Martin prevailed that year. Alex, finishing a few hours behind, was still well inside the previous record. Funny that, we do remember who came second that year.

Martin, in his role as mentor at the Change a Life Academy, understands what it means to win even if you are not the first person over the line. There is a different standard beyond the official race result to determine who has won and who has not. He knows the capabilities of his charges. When someone pushes themselves beyond their former limits they have won.

For most of us winning comes in small incremental steps. For the vast majority it never culminates in the top step of the podium, at least not publicly. That's of little consequence. We know when we have given more than our best. It is in those moments that we know what it feels like to win.

What are my goals for the race this year? I want to win. And I hope all the other competitors win too.

Alex Harris stood at the finish line of the inaugural Munga race this past December waiting for the last competitors to finish the race. He wanted more than anything for them to finish before the cutoff. When they crossed the line he shed a tear. They were far from finishing in first place but, in his eyes, they were winners.