But those who touch the yellow gate five times have something more. We see it in their eyes when they arrive. They are there, but not there. They have come for one purpose only: to finish. Everything else is secondary. They may fail. They may fail repeatedly. But they never look for an excuse. Each failure is seen only as the opportunity to improve. No matter what happens to stymie their attempt, it is only a lesson to learn; an obstacle to overcome; another skill to develop; another puzzle to solve. Their response is always the same, no matter how unfair the defeat may seem… “I have to get better.”
We never imagined there would come a day when finishing the Barkley would have so much meaning. For most, it is a defining moment in their athletic career. The fifteen finishers are not necessarily the strongest, the fastest, or the most gifted. But from the moment they touch the yellow gate at the end of the fifth loop, everywhere they go they are regarded as elite. It is something deserved. They have succeeded where thousands of others have failed. They are the 1% of the 1%.
In The Finishers, Alexis Berg and Aurélien Delfosse have set about discovering what makes these fifteen people so special. What is different about them? Why are they capable of succeeding where so many great athletes have failed? Have the authors managed to find this out? Have they found a secret ingredient, a magic formula guaranteeing entry into this very select club? I cannot say. But I have been there to see all fifteen of the finishers come in for the final time. I watched them endure the unendurable and accomplish the impossible. I have seen them go out to start a loop, so battered that any reasonable person would quit. And every time that I have seen them come in for that fifth time I feel that I have been somehow elevated, just by being there. And today when I am faced with great challenges, the strength that I have gained, just by being exposed to their iron will, gives me the will to persevere.