Story of the Day for Monday August 1, 2011
With All Their Heart
We rebuilt the wall . . . because the people worked with all their heart.
Grete Waitz, a 25 year-old Norwegian, tried to enter the New York City Marathon in 1978, but was turned down. They wanted to see her times in previous races, but she had never run a marathon. She had, in fact, never run a race further than twelve miles.
Later, the race director, Fred Lebow, called her back. He knew of her fast times in six and ten miles events, and told her she could enter the race because he wanted a “rabbit” to set a fast pace for the elite women.
Grete entered the marathon, and, by mile nineteen, knew her body had ventured into unknown territory. Her quads began to cramp and she knew that marathon races were not for her.
When she crossed the finish line, exhausted and in great pain, she was confused by the crowds swarming her and the microphones stuck in her face. She was not only the first woman to cross the finish, but had smashed the world record by two minutes.
Grete was a teacher, but would get up at five in the morning to train before work. She delighted to get up before dawn in winter and run into the bitter cold Norwegian darkness. She felt that anyone could work out when it was a nice day. Gail Kislevitz, in her book, First Marathons, quoted Waitz’s opinion of training when conditions are favorable, “That’s fun,” she said, “but there’s no sense of sacrifice, no great accomplishment.” Competing, for Grete, was about courage and sacrifice – doing it with all your heart.
In 1988, Grete Waitz had won her ninth New York City Marathon, and was known worldwide as the greatest female marathoner of all time.
But, in 1993, Grete met Zoe Klopowitz, a heavy woman in her mid-forties who suffered from multiple sclerosis. Despite weak muscles and poor balance, Waitz was astounded to learn that Zoe planned to compete in the New York City marathon.
“Who is waiting for you at the finish line?” Zoe explained she had to rely on two canes, and moved so slowly she didn’t plan to finish until the next day. No one would be there to welcome her at the finish.
At dawn, about 20 hours after the marathon had started, Grete stood waiting for Zoe at the finish line. Exhausted and sleep deprived, Zoe fell into Grete’s arms. Two runners: the world’s fastest and slowest marathoners shared a common conviction. Both believed that what mattered most was not ability, but heart.
Nehemiah rallied the people to rebuild the fallen walls of Jerusalem. They worked against constant obstacles, taunts and threats. But the wall was completed because the people were committed to a noble task to the honor of God.
And the Bible says they gave themselves to the task “with all their heart.”
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)