When The Award Is More Important Than The Win.

I’ve had one of the most incredibly unique and rewarding OCR experiences that anyone can have for the past six years (honestly, it’s the stuff of dreams). And as my time in OCR comes to an end, I want to talk about the one thing that will remain with me long after I take my leave.

This team raised over $125,000 dollars, which has helped lead to a significant breakthrough this year in Children’s Cancer research.

A dear friend of mine who I met through OCR likened me to Jim Kelly today. And while I can’t stand the thought of being compared to a Buffalo Bill (inter-division rivalry with my Pats!), I knew immediately where he was going with this comparison.

Goodness always comes back to us in the end. Yes, that’s me sprawled out in the middle of the course with a total stranger rubbing my cramped legs on LAP 2 of WTM 2014.

I’ve said for many years that the most important award in Obstacle Course Racing isn’t 1st Place at the OCR World Championships, nor Spartan World Championships, not even Worlds Toughest Mudder. The most important award is the For Those Who Would Award. This award recognizes humanitarians in OCR for their contributions to the various OCR communities. Basically, this exists for people who lead by doing amazing things not with their legs and arms, but with their hearts. Jeff Cain and the For Those Who Would organization are the Award’s driver, and I applaud and support their efforts for carrying this banner.

For those who don’t have context, I am the only two-time nominee finalist for this award in its brief three year history. If you win, you can’t be nominated again. That being said, you can PROBABLY see where my friend was going with his comparison (Jim Kelly infamously led his Bills to four Super Bowl appearances, four losses, and one Scott Norwood “wide right”).

While I love my friend, I ain’t no Jim Kelly. Being a finalist for a humanitarian award isn’t akin to going to the Super Bowl and losing.

This is a situation in which the award is more important than winning it. It’s the ONE AWARD in OCR where you can’t win it simply by beating your competitor. You need to actively help improve people’s lives. You need to make people smile. You need to reach out your hand, armed with the qualities you were blessed with, and offer people assistance in your own unique way.

You need to make people feel. 

And even after all that, you might not be the one holding the trophy at the end.

I will never remember Ryan Atkins for his wins. I will remember him for his heart.

Always consider this: the very idea that someone would take the time to write about how you’ve touched their lives means you’ve won regardless of holding a trophy, being a top 4 finalist, or simply being nominated. In a world full of anger, hate, greed, and oneupsmanship, you all stand as important role models.

Congrats to everyone nominated… not on your victories, but on taking the responsibility to be the best version of you.

And for the record, I was rooting for Norwood to make that kick.

If anyone is interested, check out the other nominee finalists and their contributions to OCR here.