My Comrades Medals and Badges : Douw Prinsloo
I took this picture this morning, my collection of Comrades memorabilia if you will. I paused for a moment after taking the picture and thought to myself, “The impossible is possible.”
“Do the impossible”, words that I have read so many times, and I bet you thought the same thoughts I did, something in the line of, yah, that is easier said than done. Guess what ? It is – it is easier said than done. No arguing there.
However, it says do the impossible. Key word, “Do” !
Looking back on my life, where I was a few years ago, 2008, 2009 maybe, I would have never thought in a million years that I will line up for any race, not even to mention lining up for the Comrades, “The Ultimate Human Race”, close to 90km to be done in one day, in 12 hours, but I did, three times now.
I remember the moment when I decided that I will do Comrades. It was way back in 2013 when Pieter did his first Comrades. We were at the expo and I bought a t-shirt with the Comrades logo on the front with the words, “Don’t promise, commit”, also on the front. I realised that I will be wearing this t-shirt and I knew at that moment that it was a given, the following year I will line up for Comrades, and I did, and every year so far after that.
I don’t want to talk about my Comrades marathon experiences today, nope, I want to share the simple message, “The impossible is possible.” If you look at the word itself, you can either read, impossible (can’t be done ) or I’m -possible ( I can do it ). Yes, you are possible. I am possible. We are all possible.
Much of the stuff we think about, things we never think we will be able to do or accomplish can be made possible when we summon the will. Fact is, we as human beings have more power than will; and it is often by way of excuse to ourselves that we believe things are impossible.
When you dream about something, when you set out to do something, anything, often it takes only that first step forward to ultimately make it happen. The will to succeed is often all it takes to turn impossibility into reality. Obviously nothing just happens, you have to work on it, you have to not only promise, but commit. To commit means that you will do whatever it takes to make it happen. I have learned this with Comrades, it takes a lot of hard work, commitment and dedication, lots of early mornings, many kilometres on the road and loads of sacrifice on various levels, but all this get rewarded on race day when you cross that finish line and receive that much sought after medal.
Let’s be honest, sometimes things don’t work out, sometimes what we set out to do doesn’t work out, and I think it is okay. By embarking on that journey of commitment and sacrifice to try and make something happen put us on a different path of self-discovery and introspection and we often learn that we are stronger than we think. Chance is good that if things don’t quite work out the way you’ve envisioned it, in any way we have to remind ourselves that we have already done much more than a multitude of others who are still stuck in that place where they still believe in the impossible. Even if we failed, we are already closer to making that impossibility a reality. It is then time to get up, refocus, and try again.
“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”
Sometimes success starts with failure. My challenge to you is to start to underline your failures instead of trying to erase it. Let me quickly explain. Last year I suffered from an injury ( plantar fasciitis ) and my Comrades, I thought, was slipping away from me. Doctor told me to go and do the Two Oceans Ultra-Marathon as a “test run” to see how my foot will react to the long run and oh boy, did it react. It was my worst race ever. In short, I did not make it in time; my first time ever not completing a race in time and not getting a medal. I was devastated. I was angry. I was sore. I was in a bad spot. But I knew this was a test run for Comrades, something much bigger and not any Comrades, my one and only change to secure my back to back medal. I had to rethink my Comrades and there were one of two options, leave it or change my game plan and still attempt it. I chose the latter. I knew that it was going to be a tough day on the road, at a very very slow pace, lots of hours on the road embroidered with a fair dose of pain. But that was my choice; I wanted my back to back medal. The minute when I decided to go for it, I underlined my Two Oceans failure and did not erase it, because I learned from that experience and that enabled me to make a more informed decision about Comrades. On Sunday, 31st of May 2016 I lined up for Comrades and the day played out the way I expected it to, it was slow, long and really tough, but I managed to slip over the finish line at 11:55:40, with only four minutes and twenty seconds before the final 12 hours cut off. Mission accomplished. Impossibility became reality.
Friends, be inspired but this, not by me, but by the lessons I have learned. Recently I read about this guys who do not have a bucket list, he has an impossible list. I challenge you to make your own impossible list; list a few things you think is a little out of reach, a little out of your comfort zone, and start working towards making those things happen, and then, one by one tick them off as you accomplish it.
I close once again in the words of Nelson Mandela who said, “It always seems impossible until its done.”
Consider yourself challenged !
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