The T&T Olympic Committee's (TTOC) 75th year since it was established, got off to a great start on January 24 with the Marathon Walk from St Mary's Junction, Freeport to Whitehall, Queen's Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain.

A smaller than usual group than in previous years. Not unsurprising, a natural consequence of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Credit to those determined individuals who committed to support the TTOC #10golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund fundraiser.

Today's column wouldn't rehash all the details of the walk which was well covered by the local media both print and electronic. Special acknowledgement goes out to Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith and Senior Superintendent Wayne Mystar of the T&T Police Service (TTPS) Traffic and Highway Patrol Branch and their officers who ensured that the walk which got underway at 2 am was safe and adhered to the Ministry of Health COVID-19 protocols and regulations.

The marathon walk 2021 represented the seventh time the walk took place during the T&T International Marathon (TTIM). This year's edition of the marathon, being the 39th edition.

At one point during the marathon, my thoughts drifted away from the now and my mind wandered a bit. After a while, the monotony of mile after mile on the way to completing 26.2 miles morphs into a hypnotic chime and cadence - left foot, right foot; left foot, right foot.

One thing you can't be along the journey is an obstacle man - someone regardless of whatever only thinks about all possible obstacles. On the contrary, you have to be an obstacle remover. The attitude is simply to see all obstacles as removable. There is no obstacle that could not be removed provided you had enough faith and guts and were willing to work.

Don't be afraid of any obstacle. Stand up to your obstacles and do something about it. Once you stand up to obstacles, you will find that they aren't as insurmountable as they may be. The mindset is let's turn obstacles into assets.

No one starts a marathon with the goal of quitting. It takes an obstacle remover attitude to get to the finish line. But why is getting to the finish line of such importance? What is it that drives each marathoner? Is it running for a cause or is it the cause alone? What about those who are doing it to better their previous best? At their lowest point of motivation where do, they go to find the will to keep going?

For whatever reason, this year more than in previous years, the finish line wasn't the end of the story but more the beginning of a new chapter.

Aside from the fact that everyone seemed ready and willing to conquer the next marathon walk, I believe the idea that COVID-19 didn't cause the marathon and marathon walk 2021 to be shut down provided an extra lift and morale boost. None of the marathoners was an obstacle, men and women. The challenge is to carry that same feel-good outside the 2021 TTIM bubble.

Since the successful 2021 marathon walk, a number of things have happened to ensure there is no respite or time to relax and savour the triumph of another marathon in the bag.

Michael Alexander's motorbike accident, the reality of the heightened uncertainty surrounding the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the predicament of addressing the entirety of the dilemma of COVID-19 vaccination and the Olympics. What's in no doubt, is there is no escaping. You can either be an obstacle man or woman, or an obstacle remover.


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