I’m fascinated by the amazing things people accomplish. How many of us never seriously consider doing these things ourselves because we unconsciously put limits on our lives? I mentioned two exceptional athletes in our Cycling Newsletter (sent to over 500 of our cycling friends monthly). One was Jens Voigt who retired from professional cycling last year. On his 43rd birthday he shattered the One Hour record, one of the most coveted feats in cycling. It requires a cyclist to gut out maximum speed in a velodrome for 60 minutes. The record had stood for 10 years. He shattered it by covering over 31 miles, an astonishing feat and the “hardest thing he had ever done.” That’s saying something since he competed in the Tour de France 17 times!
Last month, I recognized Keane West of Sebring who we met at the Horrible Hundred cycling event, in Clermont. Keane was paralyzed below his chest in a fall from a tree when he was 32. He was introduced to cycling the next year and has become a competitive hand cyclist (basically a recumbent cycle with hand crank in front of his chest). He cycles 40 miles or more a day and set the Guinness World Record for riding a hand cycle over 322 miles on a closed course in 24 hours.
Then, there is the story of Lois Huyghue who “ran” her first marathon at age 55. That alone isn’t really so unusual, but she had suffered a stroke when she was just 18 months old and lived her life with little use of her left arm and leg. She suffers spasms which cause her limbs to lock up and move outside her control. She has spent her life determined to do things people said she couldn’t do.
Lois decided she was going to run a marathon. She was not a runner and didn’t even own a pair of running shoes. But, she was determined to do it for herself. Lois' mantra through life had been “Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door.” She entered the Clearwater Distance Classic last year.
When the race began, the runners took off and were quickly out of site. Her pace was a hobble. Mile after grueling mile she went. By mile 15 her hip froze and her left leg was dead weight. She was dragging it. All the runners finished and went home. Lois trudged on alone repeating “put one foot in front of the other.” Stopping was not an option. Only 5 people were at the finish 8 hours and 13 minutes later. But they were filled with awe at what they were witnessing. And so am I.