I have two relatively quick stories that have inspired me this weekend.
The USSA SuperTour came through Houghton this weekend, luring some of the best cross-country skiers in the nation to my backyard. I volunteered at the races because of their general importance, but also because I want to give back for all of the people who volunteer at my cycling events. As you can imagine, with so many incredible athletes around, inspiration wouldn’t be hard to find.
I saw men and women coming across the finish line and simply collapsing on the snow from their effort. I saw one guy cross the line and then throw up just a little, as he had just turned himself inside-out. I saw someone who was obviously under the weather throwing up on the sidelines and still trying to race. He only lasted 5KM of the 10KM he was supposed to race, but he still got out there.
But none of those were the most inspiring thing I saw.
After all of the elite athletes had gone back to their hotel rooms or gotten massages or whatever, all the high school kids came out to play. They were skiing the same 5KM course everybody else did, and while they weren’t necessarily setting any records, they were doing quite well. I had been working the finish line, collecting timing chips and bibs, and was still hanging out there, just in case someone else came. After all, nobody had told me the course was cleared. Then two girls from one of the HS teams came up to me to ask if they could go against course traffic. “Our teammate is still out there, and she’s really slow. We want to go cheer her on,” they said. Well, that seemed reasonable enough to me and I directed them to a safe entry point. Another 5 minutes later, I see this final skier come around the bend. She’s plugging away with four of her teammates skiing alongside her. The teammates peeled off 100 meters from the finish, and she skied across the finish line, something like 11 minutes after the previous finisher and as much as 20 minutes slower than the winner. She wasn’t frustrated. She wasn’t mad. She wasn’t self-deprecating. She was smiling. She had finished her race, with the incredible support of her teammates. “Great job,” I told her as I removed her timing chip. “You have some wonderful teammates.”
So a group of teenage girls was more inspiring that Olympic athletes. To me, at least.
Then today, I was dramatically moved by a video we saw in church. I think it says more to simply watch it, rather than explain it.
“How could I say there is no God?
When all around creation calls!!”