The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016
One of the enduring memories I have from Day 5 happened with an hour left in the day. Tommy Chen from Taiwan, one of the odds on favorites to win the race, was coming in for his final lap. Tommy had taken on a number of races this year, including running the Grand Slam of Racing the Planet Races. China, Chile, Namibia and Antarctica on one year. Never mind running the Yukon Ultra and a couple other ones. Tommy is professional athlete and wildly followed in his home country. It makes it no less of a feat that he gets to train as much as he wants.
He has carried the Taiwanese flag to every race and placed it at the finish line. This being the last race of the series and the year for him, you could tell he was committed and fired up. He’s a quiet, soft spoken and slight statured man, and his smile lights up the room. He treats his competitors from first to last with great respect.
As we were pushing up, across and the mountain range on Friday, you would sometimes get stuck up to your thighs needed to push out with the other foot or your hands. It was tiring and tough slugging. On the last stretch, suddenly you saw Tommy and his orange jacket bolting across the landscape, yelling at the top of his lungs, churning quickly through the snow just minutes from the finish line. With the talent, capability and grace some of the top runners complete the course, you wonder sometimes how hard they push and how much they care.
Tommy is extremely competitive with the field and himself. He sets standards high and chases after them. Many stopped and looked on from where ever they were on course. A force of nature was giving it everything he had and it was fun just briefly to be a part of his journey and joy. It definitely gave me an extra jump in my slow plodding step in order to finish my day. He would finish 2nd overall.
The kick in the pants you need. Sign-up for a better start to your work day.