Life is a Mountain Race!
OK, besides girls, what else? Some people have told me: rugby, football, catching crickets etc.
For me, it was to climb one of the tallest mountains in Africa! 4095 M above sea level and yes an active volcano.
I wanted so badly to experience running the most difficult Mountain Race in Africa. I did not want to grow old without ever trying the regret. It was not just a hot pursuit but a kind of personal rite of passage.
While attending college, I signed up for the Mt Cameroon Race of Hope 1995. My family detested the idea! I was a public lecture to desist from the idea. I received 3 page long letter ultimatums and reminders that I had nearly died in a short 10 km marathon 7 years back.
It was widely believed there were evil forces and wild elephants that attacked runners. I signed up anyway. On the day of the race, I abandoned after 5 hours. I was so cold. I said to myself, “Perhaps, my family was right. If I die up here, I ‘d be frozen before the wild beast eat me up.
Everyone in my family had a good laugh. I was sullen. I was ashamed and bitter. The next year, I trained longer; wanted them to eat their words. To boost my chances of finishing I asked a gorgeous girl I about to date, to come and wait for me at the finish line. She agreed. Yay!
That year the race was tough but I pushed myself. I gave it my all and I finished, mainly to impress my goddess at the finish line. I wanted badly needed her adoration. Well, when I got back to the finish line, my goddess was gone! I was broken! After a-9 hours finish, no goddess.
The next day I asked her, “Why did you abandon waiting for me?”
She said, “I thought you ‘d died on the mountain or something.”
That experience thought me a powerful lesson in life. Often in life, not everyone you expect to stand for you, does. More importantly it taught me:
“When your heart rules your head, your heels suffer.”
That year, like the year before, I had no medal and nobody at the finish line. It was a lonely finish!
During my last year of college, 1997, I prepared like never before. Just FYI, I invited nobody. You think am stupid? I trained with the University team for over 6 months. On the day of the race, I gave it my all. Against a bashing head wind, I finished in 7 hours. 7 hours!
I felt ecstatic! Yes, I did it! I went jumping, dancing and hugging total strangers or getting sympathy kiss from any onlooking pretty gal. In that mayhem of my celebration, I forgot to queue up in time to collect my medal.
Oh NO! When I finally got out of the flash party, some freak accident had happened. Some people who did not actually finish the race had accidentally collected medals. Mine was gone! “Oh no, I can’t go without my medal,” I yelled out. It was too late, I left without one!
You want to talk about despair! The was no medal to shame my family. If you could measure unhappiness, I ‘d have been the most unhappy boy in Africa! Unwilling to back away, I tried to buy a medal from the black market; from an athlete who had accidentally received the medal.
She said to me, “I understand you pain, but I keeping my medal.” I was dejected. Word got out to my training partner, a top athlete I was in the black market for medal. He confronted me. More importantly he said something I will never forget, something that has changed me.
“Gideon,” he said, in life, “You don’t run for medals, you run for the memories.”
As you look for success remember material success passes, but the memories are forever.