Life is a Marathon

Life is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

By Dr. Steven J. Callis

 

In my formative years, my brothers and I were involved in sports year round: baseball, football, and basketball.  Certainly, our parents had their hands full trying to get the three of us where we needed to be for practices and games.  Nearly every day at least one of us needed to be somewhere for some kind of sporting event.

At the high school level I added wrestling to my interests and dropped baseball and basketball.  However, there was a requirement for varsity football participants to participate in a spring sport.  I had not taken up golf at that point in my life, and being out of baseball for a few years seemed to negate that option.  So, I joined the track team.

My short, stocky body was not suited for fast or long distance running, so I never really embraced that sport with fondness.  Hence, athletes running the Peachtree Road Race or the Boston Marathon amaze me.  Premiering in 1970, the Peachtree is touted as the world’s largest 10K race with over 60,000 participants.

The Boston Marathon originated in April 1897 with 15 contestants.  Today, this 26-mile race exceeds 30,000 participants and draws over 500,000 spectators, making it the world’s oldest annual marathon and among the world’s most popular race.

Of the many interesting stories over all these years, one that stands out involved Canadian participant Rosie Ruiz.  In 1980, this amateur runner crossed the finish line first in the women’s race. Marathon officials became suspicious when it was discovered that Ruiz did not appear in race videotapes until near the end of the race. A subsequent investigation concluded that Ruiz had skipped most of the race and blended into the crowd about one mile from the finish line, where she then ran to her bogus victory.  Of course, she was disqualified and stripped of her title.

Events such as these remind me of a promise from the Bible book of Hebrews, that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who have already finished the race.  “Let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

Unlike the incident of 1980, in the spiritual race it does not matter when a person enters it.  They key is to finish with one’s faith intact.  No matter one’s age, it is not too late to enter the race.

The athletes who compete in road races, both amateur and professional runners, are well trained and conditioned.  They spend months or even years in preparation.  Nevertheless, they will experience during their event fatigue, aching burning muscles, back aches, dehydration, and any number of other physical obstacles.

Besides the physical challenges, runners will face circumstances such as bad weather conditions, mental and emotional stress, the tactics of other runners, equipment issues, and such.  Physical, mental, and emotional stamina are essential in overcoming the various obstacles faced throughout the race.  They must remain focused on the finish line.

In the faith race there are many obstacles dealt by life circumstances: health issues, relationship challenges, immoral and addictive temptations, financial setbacks, and many other types of hindrances.  Finishing the race with Christ necessitates a determined focus on the One who has marked to race out for us.  The hurdles will seem insurmountable when we take our eyes off of Him.

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2 Comments on “Life is a Marathon”

  1. Connie Callis Says:

    That Rosie was a character, huh? I didn’t know about her, but it’s certainly something kids will do.
    Interesting article. I’m glad I’m in the race with you as my partner!

  2. Donna D Says:

    So very well said and true. I had not heard about Rosie before. I will share all of this with Rick.
    I love your writings.


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