100 years ago, in 1912, the summer Olympics were held in Stockholm, Sweden.
On Sunday the 14th of July 1912 the Olympic Marathon was run with 69 participants. It was a hot day and many runners suffered from the heat, only half of them completed the race.
One of the 34 people who didn’t finish the race that day was the Japanese runner, Shizo Kanaguri. His “disappearance” created the “myth of the missing Japanese” and I remember growing up with the tales of what happened that hot summer day. Apparently he wasn’t feeling well due to the heat and the long travel through Russia he’d had to make to get to Sweden. He was invited into a family’s garden for lemonade and buns (typical Swedish cakes, most common version is the cinnamon roll). He stayed there and rested for a bit and then returned to his hotel, checked out and went back home to Japan.
For years afterwards there was apparently talk about what could have happened to him. What happened was that he became a very influential person in sports in Japan and went on to participate in two more Olympics in the 20’s, but for some reason people in Sweden still just knew him as the “Japanese who disappeared”.
He was finally tracked down by some Swedish journalist and was invited back to Sweden in 1967 to complete the marathon! He finally entered the Stockholm Stadium after almost 55 years and crossed the finishing line, making his marathon race the “longest in history”:-).
Yesterday it was exactly 100 years since the 1912 Olympic Marathon, and a 100th Anniversary Jubilee Marathon was run. This time there were almost 9000 participants (including a great grandson of Kanaguri!) running the same race (well almost, roads have changed in 100 years so they had to make some changes to the course).
I went to watch the race as the runners passed us twice on their way north to the turning point and then on their way south into the city again. It was just a couple of hundred meters from our house. And close by, near to the house where Kanaguri was offered lemonade and buns (the actual house is not there anymore), great grandchildren of the hospitable family were serving lemonade and buns to runners and spectators (including Kanaguri’s great grandson). The circle was completed.
I got so inspired!
There was so much joy, there were so many running styles, there were people who seemed to be having a great time and those who seemed to suffer, there were people with hats, without shoes, men in dresses (1912 style!), people holdings signs, wearing wigs – there was even a women dressed as Superwoman!
Watching the race was exactly the kick in the bum that I needed to get myself properly back on track for my race. So what if I’ve missed a few weeks of training!
And who knows, maybe I’ve got a Marathon in me in due course…..
It’s not just because of the lie-in, or the all day pyjama fashion, or playing on the Wii, or watching good films on TV, or even pigging out on chocolote – although all of that is good too.
No, the main reason I love New Year’s Day is this – it has a great sense of clean, fresh start about it. Somehow the start of a new calendar year makes us realise that we can start something, something we’ve put off, something that’s important to us. We can wipe the slate clean, we can change something, we can find the energy to turn things around.
I don’t believe in “New Year’s resolutions” though. They tend to become a threat and a slow or fast journey to failure (as we somehow know – or have decided – that most resolutions fail).They could work though – if we called them something different and if we used them differently – as a great possibility, as an encouragement. Although this is not about resolutions….let’s get back to the magic of New Year’s Day.
You could argue that the problem with all other days is that it’s not New Year’s Day – that we don’t have that same sense of hope and opportunity that 1 January brings.
So I say, let’s make every day New Year’s Day! Every day is a fresh, clean start. It’s never too late or too early to act on our dreams, our aspirations, our interests.
Take this day with you throughout the year. Make every day New Year’s Day – keep the clear outlook, the hope and the drive. Learn from yesterday, take from it what you can, learnings, insights – and move forward with curiosity and joy. Anything can happen. What do you want to happen? And how will you make it happen?
I will start by treating myself to a leisurely day, full of joy and relaxation, and opportunities to recharge. If there is anything I will start this New Year’s Day with, it’s the continuous learning that to achieve anything, you need to take time to take care of yourself. Just like they say about the oxygen masks on planes – “before helping anyone else, please secure your own mask”. So true, so true – whatever we want to achieve, for others, for the world, for ourselves – we need to look after the instrument that is us, so that we have something to give. So it’s oxygen mask on for me. Go ahead, you do it too:-)
Never give up! I don’t mean “be stupid and keep hitting your head against a brick wall”. No, what I mean is this – if something really matters to you, if you really want to achieve something and you think it’s possible, then keep going.
Hold on to your dreams, to your ambitions – be inspired by them, as often as you can.
I bet you’re the person who will keep going, aren’t you? You know that all success is preceded by temporary setbacks, that everything worth doing well is worth doing badly first. And you know that those setbacks are indeed temporary setbacks. You are able to keep going, trying something new, something different – be inspired by those setbacks. Yes, thank you setbacks!
Who cares for a straight road anyway?!
You are not deterred by “failure” – heck, you know it isn’t even failure – it’s just an indication of what to change in your next attempt.
You never give up, do you? Not if it’s important enough to you.
So keep going – focus on your dream and act in accordance,
Enjoy the journey!
Never give up.