It’s Too Late…

I’ve heard that from several people, of all ages, and in various contexts. The subtext is, “I should have done it earlier in life; if I had done it then, I could do it well now.” Or maybe it’s, “But I’m too old to do that now.” But starting now, for whatever reason, is out of the question.

I recently saw an article from Sports Illustrated from 1970. Here is the gist of it: A Swedish newspaper offered a $1,000 prize to the winner of a bicycle race from the northernmost part of Sweden to the southern tip of the country. A 66-year-old man named Gustaf Hakansson decided to enter the race but did not qualify after a medical exam.

The race started without him. Regardless, he started behind the “official” riders on a heavy, old bike. Racers were required to stop and check in every night, and restart in the morning. But Gustaf was not in the race; he decided not to do that, and continued on. On about 7 hours of sleep over the course of the race, he led by more than 150 miles.

Eight hundred yards before the finish line, he had a flat tire. He continued anyway, and crossed the finish line 23 hours ahead of his nearest competitor. So a 66-year-old man deemed by doctors to be unable to compete raced, and won, against 50 much younger, much “fitter” men.

Message: Don’t pretend that you can’t. Whatever it is. Life’s too short to say, “I can’t” when you’re really saying, “I won’t.”


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