Monday, April 17, 2017

Bragging Rights, Recognition & Material Rewards

For a few years now I've been wanting to join the Labuan Cross Channel Swim, but somehow there's always something that prevented me from joining. I've never been any good in swimming, especially in the open water. Each time I join a race involving swimming, it'd be a matter of survival. But I challenge myself to conquer the sport anyway, and so today I registered for the Labuan event.

I posted about the Labuan swim on my facebook wall, and then a friend commented, saying that the event offers neither a finisher medal nor certificate; hence even if one were to be able to finish the race, nobody would believe. I responded that I'm joining the race to challenge myself—that I have it in me to finish the race. If I can help it, I want to be able to say to myself at my death bed that I've lived life to my highest potential. Even if the best that I can do is to come in last in the Labuan Swim, it doesn't really matter, for I have conquered my fear of the open water. There's no regrets even if my best isn't good enough for others. 

As a matter of fact, that is my attitude for everything else in life. Whenever I set my mind to do something, I'd like to do it to the best of my ability. If I can somehow win, that is even better. If not, then that's OK too.

Nevertheless, one is after all only human, and sometimes one craves for recognition too. One challenges oneself to conquer a seemingly impossible feat, and then having achieved it, one wants to brag about that achievement. Having others recognizing my achievements is nice. Sometimes people look up to me as their role model; they become inspired to achieve their dreams too, whatever those are. But I've never forgotten why I'm doing all these things, and that is always to challenge myself and to prove to myself that I can do it. 

That is why, I'm joining the Labuan Swim in spite of the fact that the event offers no finisher medals for the participants. When and if I can finish the race, I'll be happy even if nobody believes that I've finished it.

That is not to say that I wouldn't accept a finisher medal if there is one. Of course I would accept it as a souvenir. If there is a finisher T-shirt and monetary rewards from the organizer, then why not? But to me, those are not the main reasons why I'm joining.

Incidentally, I visited the facebook page of the Borneo International Marathon recently where the organizer posted the picture of the finisher T-shirt for the full marathon (42km), and then found many negative comments because no finisher T-shirts will be given for the half marathon. Comparisons are made with the Miri Marathon; and if not wrong the Kuching Marathon too.

Some people join races to challenge themselves to the feat, but that seems to be not the main reason they're joining. Apparently the main reason is for the recognition by means of material rewards such the finisher T-shirts or even cash prizes. I have in fact joined several other races such as the Macau Marathon and Hong Kong Marathon, and Tokyo Marathon, and not even the full marathon finishers received the finisher T-shirts. I'm OK with that though; I wasn't complaining.

Notwithstanding all that I've said above, sometimes I think there is virtue in providing some attractive monetary rewards, especially for the local participants, because I feel that that can attract local talents. After all, I'm fairly certain that there are untapped talents out there; people with some natural flair in running, but they see no reason to train to win races for mere medals in the end. But if there is money in it, then that might be an inducement to bring out all those hidden talents.

However, for the vast majority of us pencil pushers in the office, we can only dream of winning; and we only get to admire those who end up on the podium after each race. We only get to click the "like" button on facebook when photos of the winners are posted. Let us be happy that we have a healthy body that can conquer seemingly impossible distances on foot. Never mind the medals, the certificates, and the finisher T-shirts. Let those be additional sweeteners; while they are nice to have, they shouldn't be the main reasons for us to do this!

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