Two hours, five minutes, and ten seconds: the time it took Kenya’s Samuel Wanjiru to finish first in the 26.2-mile (42 km 195 m) London Marathon in April 2009.
Thirteen days: The time it took Major Phil Packer, a British soldier who became a paraplegic following a spinal injury, to complete the same marathon, finishing last out of 36,000 competitors. This feat of perseverance raised over £600,000 (about US$1 million) for charity.
Wanjiru made the headlines for his speed. Packer made headlines not for speed, but for his courage and determination. A thousand-strong crowd gathered to welcome him at the end of a race that he had defied odds to enter, let alone complete. Following his injury a year earlier, he had been told he would never walk again. In fact, he only relearned to walk with crutches a month before the marathon.
While both men are respected for their accomplishments, there was something special about Packer’s triumph. He was never alone during the exhausting and painful six hours it took him to walk two miles each day. Well-wishers—both friends and strangers—accompanied him on the course, walking beside him and cheering him on, from the starting gate to the finishing line. Congratulatory messages on his website include a message of admiration from Prince Charles.
The road of life is not always easy, and sometimes we face what appear to be impossible obstacles. But we don’t walk it alone. We also have well-wishers—our family and friends—encouraging us along the way. And we too have a Prince supporting us—not one from this realm, but Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who promises to help us rise above circumstances, persist against the odds, and triumph over difficulty: “My grace is sufficient for you,” He tells us, “for My strength is made perfect in [your] weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). So “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Story courtesy of Activated magazine. Used by permission.
Image credits: Image of Samuel Wanjiru courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Image of Major Phil Packer from www.abc.net.au; used under Fair Use guidelines.