The human spirit is an amazing thing. There is never a shortage of inspiring stories when it comes to endurance sports. Everyone has obstacles in their life that they need to rise above to perform at their best. Some obstacles are temporary – sickness, heavy work load, injury… While others are truly epic moments where someone has risen above truly unsurmountable odds to accomplish their goal. Love him or hate him, Lance Armstrong comes to mind as someone who has achieved greatness when his back was up against the wall.
Lately, I have to say that it’s the next generation of athletes that I am finding inspiration from – especially as I raise my family and try to instill in them that anything is possible and to never say “I can’t.” Watching Rudy Garcia-Tolson compete at the Hawaiian Ironman this past year as a bilateral above-knee amputee was awe-inspiring. Knowing full well just how painful that race is with two legs, the thought of riding 112 miles through that wind and heat with no legs is mind blowing. He didn’t quite make the cut-off, but that boy is driven and has already vowed to return to the Big Island for another shot.
This past December you may remember the news covering the huge swells that were hitting Hawaii. The surf was amazing and epic. Monstrous waves like Jaws and Waimea Bay were blowing up and every big wave surfer from around the world showed up to grab some big surf. One name that got lost behind such names as Laird Hamilton and Shane Dorian, was Bethany Hamilton. Remember Bethany? Bethany is the young professional surfer who had her arm bitten off by a tiger shark while surfing on Kona several years back. She’s still been surfing since her incident and even competing on the professional level. That’s one thing…but, for Bethany to surf Jaws on one of the most epic days of surf in the past decade – when big wave legends like Laird Hamilton are talking about how big the surf was – that’s a completely different beast.
These are the people that I talk to my kids about and pull up videos on to display their talents. These are the people that I want as inspirational role models for my children – to learn that there is no end to the fortitude of the human spirit. If you want something bad enough – no matter what the obstacles are..you can achieve it.