What is ‘Ironman’ toughness worth?
The Ironman Triathlon mantra is that 'anything is possible'. For most, this means that all who finish the gruelling one-day event have proved their mental and physical commitment, at least, for as long as they remember the personal sacrifice it took.
At the annual World Championships in Hawaii this May, regional top-50 tri-athletes will once more push their bodies to the extreme to complete a 4km swim, 180km bike ride and a 42km run without a break in under 17 hours.
Three-time World Champion and current Hawaii record holder, Australian Craig Alexander acknowledges his family's constant support and sacrifice as key reasons for his success.
"A lot of people have sacrificed so that I can be out there and race and I want to honour their sacrifice," he told Gear Patrol in 2014.
The 41-year-old Ironman champ lives and breathes fitness but admits that as his body has gotten older, he cannot do the amount of training he used to do.
A lifetime of commitment, training, sacrifice and perseverance and yet his body's strength and agility will inevitably waste away like everyone else's. His legacy may live on, or it may fade when someone breaks his record.
We can choose a life of strict discipline, push through pain and hard circumstances and perhaps even become world-renowned for something but at the end of the day what is it worth?
Rich Froning Jr* is a fellow professional athlete who asked himself this exact question.
Currently holding the title "Fittest Man on Earth" after winning the World CrossFit Games four years in a row, Rich explained to TheBlaze.com that he competes for more than just his fitness goals and success.
"If you are in a workout and something [bad] happens...it's not the end of the world because Jesus died for us and this life is temporary," he shares confidently.
"When I walk away from competing in CrossFit, I won't have it anymore, [but] Christ will always be there."
The Bible explains the difference between these two prestigious athletes clearly in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 where it says, "Everyone who competes in the race goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."
Though a healthy lifestyle may afford us a few extra years on earth, we will all come face-to-face with God to give an account of our life when it ends.
Suddenly those things we achieved on earth will fade away and, as explained in the Bible, the only thing that will count is whether or not we have a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
A life devoted to becoming one of the world's greatest athletes may leave a legacy on earth but motivation that comes from living a God-honouring life will outlast any title or medal the world can offer.
Pushed to his physical limits, Rich describes how this has motivated him during competition: "When I was getting tired or feeling weak, I would look down and think 'what I'm going through is nothing compared to what [Jesus] went through for us'. " •
*You can read Rich Froning's story in Challenge edition no. 362 at Challengenews.org.