Dick who? Yeah, that's probably what most people would say. Except this past Friday the Titan's Stadium club hosted a smallish group of decidely not 'most people'. They were going to run a half marathon the next day and Dick was there to provide some encouragement.
So, Dick Beardsley is an American distance runner who came to great notariety in the 1982 Boston Marathon dubbed "The Duel in the Sun”, which has been immortalized in a great book of the same name by John Brant. I highly recommend it.
Dick's back story is as amazing as it is ordinary and this quick one-dimensional synopsis won't do it justice. Small town farm kid, didn't start running until high school, went to a small 2-year college, and worked super hard at getting better every day. He kind of reminds you of a 'Rudy' with natural talent. No silver spoon, no Ivy League School, just pure determination.
What transpires that day in April 1982 in Boston is legendary. Against all odds, Dick Beardsley is leading the world record holder, Alberto Salazar in the Boston Marathon right up until the last 600 yards. Spoiler alert... he doesn't win. The video shows it better than I could ever describe, but Dick ran the race of his life and came in second.
A loser? Hardly. Five minutes with Dick and you are completely overwhelmed by his optimism, gratitude, compassion, and contagious enthusiasm. He didn't win the greatest foot race in the world, but he did manage to break a course record and ran the best race of his life. In a humbling display of sportsmanship after the race, the winner, Alberto Salazar, held Dick's hand up in the air on the podium as if to signify a shared victory. Dick is a living legend in running circles.
A lot of people ask me why someone would run a race that they don't have a chance to win? Its like asking a bird why they fly, an artist why they paint, a poet why they write, a teacher why they teach, and a musician why they perform. They simply cannot imagine NOT doing it.
Is that passion? I guess so - but I think there's way more to it. It is simply magic to put one foot in front of the other, give it everything you've got and not know (or care) about the outcome. You simply can't imagine not doing it and let the results to take care of themselves.
We should all be so lucky to live like that and come in second.
Thank you, Dick. I needed that.
Do you want to live your life like a Duel in the Sun?
If so, let's run together.
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Jeff Skillen is an experienced messaging and media coach who is passionate about messaging and how it helps people and companies accomplish extraordinary things.