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Being a Guide Can Be More Rewarding than Running a Marathon on One's Own

Leszek J. Sibilski's picture

I'm often asked what I think about as I run. Usually the people who ask this have never run long distances themselves. I always ponder the question. What exactly do I think about when I'm running? I don't have a clue.”    ― Haruki Murakami
 
This reflection was inspired by the contemporary Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami, in his 2009 memoir on his obsession with running and writing while training for the New York City Marathon entitled “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.”
 
I only read two books in my life in one sitting: Quo Vadis by the Polish Novelist and Nobel Prize Laureate, Henryk Sienkiewicz, and now Marakami’s funny and sobering, playful and philosophical personal contemplation. One of the reasons why I enjoyed the story is the fact that Tokyo, New York City and Boston are cities to which I have special sentiment. Tokyo due to its magnificence as the Mega City, The Big Apple is a place where both of my kids were born, and Boston due to my daughter’s Alma Mater, which instilled in her the joy of running along the Charles River banks in Cambridge.
 
I am a former track cyclist, where speed is the winning factor; as such endurance competition translates to me as boredom and long, self-imposed unnecessary torture. My relationship with sport is love-hate mixed with a lack of interest on a good day, but when I am in, I am into it big time. In my wildest dreams, I would not have dared to envision myself as a marathon runner, but what is so appealing in it: to do something which seems impossible. I was always fascinated with the notion of turning the impossible into the possible, and I was blessed to get a semi-regular taste of these sweet moments in my life.

However, whenever you are involved in such endeavors and you fail, you have to be prepared for many bruises and ironic smiles from the non-risk takers. On top of this all, I do not look like a long distance runner, as one of my colleagues, Royalfu, noticed, “you would be a perfect match with your body build for rugby as a hooker.”
 
With my encouragement in 1990, my wife, Krystyna, completed the New York City Marathon— just six months after giving birth to our daughter, Agnes. Since then, I almost immediately knew that it was only a matter of time when my high-level adrenaline would start seeking the same challenge.
 
One day during the spring of 1991, while passing a small village in my native Poland, I noticed a lonely runner who had a slight limp. After passing him, I asked the driver to stop. I introduced myself to this young, fit man and learned that he loves running, although he is a victim of polio since birth. His name was Jarek Niewiada, and he was 20 years old. I invited him for dinner to my mother’s house the next day where we talked about life and running, and we both immediately clicked into one mission: the New York City Marathon.
 
My wife and I invited him to New York City to join our family, and we started, first of all a great friendship, and secondly, became running buddies. To make a long story short, our running produced phenomenal results for both of us. In 1992 Jarek finished the New York City Marathon with an amazing Personal Record of 2:59:34, and a couple of years later, when it was my turn, I finished my first ever New York City Marathon with Jarek as my running guide. We served as guides for one another. Since then, I have been looking at the word “disabled” from a different prospective: (dis)-ABLED. As for Jarek, he has since finished many more marathons including ones in Boston, San Francisco, Toronto, and Warsaw. His sport successes translated into personal ones: he met a girl, got married, has two beautiful daughters, and he still runs marathons.
 
… as I am too. Well not quit true. After my 1994 marathon debut in the Big Apple, I devoted my life to the extracurricular sports of my two kids, mostly in tennis, and sometimes road running. More or less I voluntarily put myself into physical hibernation but woke up in the spring of 2014, discovering that I still have the will to be physically active, if not competitive.  But to my chagrin, I had no means to back it up.
 
One day, I suggested to my office colleagues that we should run the 2014 New York City Marathon. After a few days, I learned that I am the only one who was still willing to do it. I knew that there was only one solution to save my face: I would have to do it on my own. Almost, immediately, a thought arrived to my mind: “What were you thinking. Are you out of your mind at 56?” Not having other choices, I started to train along with my wife. The beginning was a disaster, but week-by-week I was getting stronger and more confident as my wife patiently dealt with my personal running drama.
 
In August, I officially signed up for the race, and since then, I never looked back while getting better and better. They say that the easiest is the first marathon as you deal with something unknown. Again, this year, I was scheduled to run as a guide for a disabled runner.
 
The day before the race at the Expo at Javits Convention Center, I met my team and our leader Denise Smith of Colorado, who has a mild left-sided cerebral palsy. She was accompanying by her trusted and seasoned buddy Stacy Bolyard, and her old friend Mitchell Strong. I was struck during our initial meeting that Denise unconditionally and immediately entrusted me with her desire to finish the race with me as part of her team. I knew that I could not let her down. In this era of mistrust everywhere, I found this very touching and refreshing.
 
On November 2, we needed to meet at Denise’s Manhattan hotel at 5:00 AM in order to walk together to the bus; we sat together and were driven to the starting line at the Verrazano Bridge in Staten Island. While on the bus, I checked if I still had $60 for a taxi in case I won’t be able to finish. Upon arrival to the starting village, Denise gave me her medication to carry during the race, which was a clear indication that not finishing was not an option anymore for me.
 
To prevent quitting the race, I applied several sociological measures to my colleagues and my family— basically I told everybody around me about my intention of finishing the marathon. Besides my family, only my boss, Lucia, wished me luck.  For the others it was an oblivious episode, but not for me, especially during the sleepless night before the race.
 
Around 9:00 AM we were asked to join the herd of runners of the 9:40 wave. Surrounded by the thousands of colorful outfits of my fellow runners from all walks of life from around the world, I again was moved by this amazing view. The weather was brutal, as the temperature was only 43°F and winds from 40-50 miles per hour were blowing, but we were wearing running gear and were fully ready to go. I put my sunglasses on to keep my mind in the zone. As soon as we started, I took the two-mile long lead on the bridge to shield Denise from the wind, so she could draft. Stacy kept her excitement at bay, knowing that a long journey was ahead of us. It was very difficult to maintain our footing and balance due to the very aggressive gales coming from the Atlantic Ocean. As soon as we crossed the bridge, we started to interact with something very unique: the loyal and fair spectators congregated in millions on the streets of New York City. They did not abandon us until the finish line— almost 24 miles of non-stop cheering, music, humor and sympathy for those who put their bodies through this inhumane test.
 
As soon as we entered Brooklyn, Stacy took the lead to set the pace.  My responsibility was to provide water or Gatorade at each station for our leader, Denise; to carry the backpack with her medication and nutritious drinks; and protect her from behind so other runners would not bump into our team. We were cheered by millions, but were also part of a 50,000-strong herd of fellow runners who always had time to cheer Denise. She wasn’t alone for even a fraction of a second. The New Yorkers know how to boo, but they also know how to hail the heroes.
 
After passing the half point at the Greenpoint Bridge, we took a short break. Since this moment, I knew that there was only one destination for me: the finish line. As soon as we entered the Queensboro Bridge, we recalibrated the pace with me as the lead on this two-mile stretch. The immediate reward was Manhattan’s First Avenue where the scream and noise from very enthusiastic spectators was beyond our imaginations. The day before, Mitchell warned us that this could be a very deceiving moment since the spectators would act like a painkiller to our “past half point struggle” so we paced ourselves wisely without wasting any energy. While “windsurfing” First Avenue, we approached the 21-mile mark in the Bronx, where I “hit the wall”, but one food station with bananas saved me. I still think back fondly on these Bronx Bananas! Meanwhile Denise and Stacy took on the final 5 miles.  It was funny to see Stacy being the pace whip and Denise making sure that we were all ok. The last five miles in Manhattan was a mixture of struggle, pride, and dealing with pain, while making sure nothing was going to happen to our exhausted bodies.
 
As I approached the finish line, I was fully able to comprehend the tragedy of the 2012 Boston Marathon Bombing. Those runners were so tired, and the spectators so eager to cheer, and they suffered such a heinous and unjust destiny. We should never forget it.
 
When Stacy and Denise received their medals they were genuinely happy. After all, Denise finished the race with her Personal Record of 6:30:38. I saw a slight disappointment in Denise’s eyes as I knew that she wanted to break the 6 hour mark to qualify for the 2015 Boston Marathon, but in this weather it was simply impossible— even for elite runners. She will definitely run the marathon in sub-six hours in 2015! Denise, Stacy, Mitch and I became BFFs. That is the value added to being a marathon runner.
 
I have to be honest— the Monday after the race was a very challenging day in the department of walking, but on Tuesday, I was back in business.
 
On Wednesday, I came to the office and while being surrounded by my colleagues, I mischievously stated, “I must confess to you…”  One of them jumped the gun and said, “You did not finish it,” but I replied thinking of Marakami’s reflections, “ I have never been passed by so many beautiful female athletes in my life. I wish my son was here to experience it with me.”
 
Later that night on Wednesday, I came to the conclusion that my colleague’s doubt about me not finishing the race was the best recognition of my achievement. Again, I accomplished the seemingly impossible.
 
For me, as a sociologist, the phenomenon of a marathon is a perfect example of an agent of socialization and social change. The process of getting ready for global sporting festivals, like the New York City Marathon, deserves to be put on par with such agents of socialization as family, schools, peer groups, the media, religion, and employment as they teach us what we need to know in order to function properly in society.
 
From the time of the revival of the Olympic Games near the end of the 19th century, the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who was an educator, believed that the Olympics should be a strong advocate of international cooperation and should emphasize the social and human values of sport. Sporting events, athletes and spectators as a whole can become a model to communities in conflict by demonstrating their commitment to the values of human rights. Through establishment of self-governing entities that respect the rights of all individuals and groups and the tradition of sport, participants on both sides of sporting arenas can learn firsthand how to exist in a more peaceful environment. Sport can contribute to development and social change by rebuilding traumatized populations, rebuilding economies, serving as a model for democratic functions and influence, encouraging free communication, providing a safe haven for young generations, and serving as a peacemaker.
 
Undoubtedly, on November 2, 2014, when 50,000 runners from all over the world met a few million spectators on the streets of the Big Apple, they all met in peace.
 
In terms of Sienkiewicz’s question: “Quo Vadis” which is in Latin for “Where are you going?” I would like to follow my favorite song by the British punk rock group, The Clash: “London Calling,” as I must go for a run as the 2015 London Marathon is on my radar.



Photograph of runners crossing the finish line at the New York City Marathon, Nov. 2, 2014 by Petty Officer 3rd Class Frank Iannazzo-Simmons, courtesy of U.S Coast Guard
Photograph of runners on the Queensboro Bridge by Jimmy Baikovicius, via his Flickr album

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Comments

Submitted by Yvonne DeSander on

please I have been trying to become and volunteer to be a guide, my son SSG TRAVIS WOOD, is a member of ACHILLES and he to knows how bad my disire is to help and volunteer, please contact me I am serious about help that someone special cross the finish line. Thank you for your time

Submitted by Tim Erson on

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." I was reminded of this quote by Helen Keller as I read Leszek Sibliski's article about his recent "team effort" in the New York City Marathon. Mr. Sibilski, a former track cyclist, comes out of 'retirement' (so to speak), to partner in the 26.2 mile event with Denise Smith, an athlete from Colorado who has cerebral palsy. Although 50,000 people entered the race that day, these two were clearly among the winners as they encouraged one another on a quest that neither might have ventured to make alone. Thank you Leszek for sharing this story. It is an encouragement to me that in friendships new and old, "together we can do so much."

Submitted by Francisco C. on

This is an inspirational event that can hopefully influence more people into doing this. It is a wonderful thing to be a marathon guide for a handicapped person. It is something to be proud of.

Submitted by Ben N'Gambwa on

The article was a great one. It showed the courage and strength that people have to help each other. It also shows the selflessness that people have. By Dr. Sibilski first encountering a wounded runner and helping him shows that helping others is one of the best things that someone can do help their live and the lives of the people around them.

Submitted by Amron M on

The idea that a man comes out of retirement from athletics and more than a decade later still has the strength and agility to endure this is amazing and inspirational

Submitted by J. M. on

The immense achievement of completing the marathon is amazing and you, as well as your group, should be proud of yourselves. Growing old is not something everyone can handle when trying to continue their daily activities or any physical activity, but the continuous effort put into the marathon should be a good indicator that you and your whole group has succeeded in a well earned completion at a very difficult competition of the mind and the body.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This story is remarkable but also inspirational to express the notion that there is no age limit to do things in his world for pure enjoyment. The achievement and commitment is possible to reach your desired goal. Maybe you could also meet some friends along the way to encourage you with their motivational attitude. Anything is possible with commitment, motivation, and endurance to reach your goal. Thank you so much Dr. Sibilski.

Submitted by Bryanna Tolliver on

Many may not think of running in general as a sport, yet it is. It has the power to bring us together. You push yourself even though you might not like it, you have a love-hate relationship with the sport. You want to prove people wrong and failure is not an option for you. You want to set your goals and achieve them the best way possible. People will support you and people will doubt you and it is up to you achieve your goal. In this society, we need to support each other and have friendly competition and we will prosper.

Submitted by Lud blair on

The determination Dr.Sibilski had towards running the Marathon was immaculate. He didn't let any obstacles stop him from achieving a very difficult task.

Submitted by Cj Bautista on

Seeing that you still have the determination to go out and finish the marathon at age 53 is amazing to me. Thats what sports do to our society, it brings us together for the good and better of us. We should all come together and support each other in real life just as we do in these types of sporting events more often so we could live in a more positive and successful society.

Submitted by Leul Aderaye on

This a magnificent account of how sports can teach you the skills that help you function in society. Thank you Dr.Sibilski and good luck to you and Denise in 2015.

Submitted by Sophia Lewsey on

Any feat can be accomplished despite your physical position, mental capabilities are what ultimately crossed that finish line. During the race there was likely a battle against the mind and body. This is less then a physical task but rather a mental goal to reach. Attitude was a key component in deciding to finish the race strong. Success is the continual achievement of predetermined goals. Each mile,each yard completed was a seperate goal attained and accomplished.

Submitted by Nataniel Desta on

Amazing. The amazing part isn't that Dr. Sibilski finished the marathon, the amazing part is that he acknowledged a difficult task, set his mind to it, and proved people's wrong by completing it. I applaud you.

Submitted by anonymous on

I was not only moved by your story, but I was also inspired and I'm glad that I have you, Dr. sibilski as my sociology teacher. I learned that giving up should not be an option if you have a goal to achieve and I feel like that's what I have been doing all along, but I guess this is my wake up call. Reading about all these disabled people who devoted their time to finishing a marathon and on top of that working so hard in order to succeed and I am happy that they did is a motivation. We are all prviledged of having a healthy body and it's amazing and moving seeing that the disabilities that these people have does not stop from achieving wonderful things and being wonderful humans.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The wonderful thing about sports is that it challenges you in so many ways. Those obstacles you overcome contribute to all the joy of success you gain at the end. People don't understand why people run, yes it can be for fun but it's more of a mental challenge you have to accept the challenge that "yes I can finish this race" no matter the distance no matter what my peers or colleagues say I can do it. Everything you do is for you but influences the people around you to go up to your level and succeed like you.

Submitted by Sheila Suazo on

This article was life changing, even at the age of 56 you still can do whatever you put your mind into. Sometimes helping someone get to the finish line is even more rewarding then you doing it. Because together we can trust and do so much with eachothers support

Submitted by Anonymous on

This is a very inspirational article. Here we see how team work is such an important thing in our society today. It makes us a functional society and proves that through team work, we can do something that seem impossible alone, but together is possible.

Submitted by Zerhai Ghebre on

I believe that going through a task as difficult as running a marathon builds your own respect for yourself rather than others respect towards you. Being able to break your own limitations shows character and determination. Also people in society are positive and negative to us. Comoleteing a difficult task with others creates strong bonds and makes it all the more sweeter. But people can also bring you down, so it is important to trust yourself because at the end of the day you can only truly build respect for yourself.

Submitted by Carla Louis on

This article is not only well written but it's also very inspirational to anyone struggling to achieve a particular goal or having doubts about it. What I've learned is that once you put your mind into something, you'll accomplish it in well known manner. The joy that it brings surpasses all understabding. Keep on going! Great article!!!

Submitted by Sungheum Jo on

More Than Just A Marathon

Wow. Dr. Sibilski, it was quite a thrill partaking in your journey of seemingly impossible endurance. Not only did I experience the pain of persevering through reading your article, I also empathized with your need to continue as the group's success and safety depended on your completion. These factors, along with your sense of humor after the marathon, open a whole new perspective on marathons.
Having never ran a marathon, I hadn't given much thought to the arduous preparation and endurance needed to complete a marathon; all I thought was that running a marathon was for the highly motivated and physically fit, but it is now apparent that a marathon is not just an activity. It's more than just running. Personally, it's about pushing yourself to the limit and testing your "boundaries." When running with others, it's about encouragement and a special bond that can only be formed when everyone is in their most physically deprived and enervated state. Finally, whether you are supporting or running a marathon, it's about societies coming together in peace, almost to the Olympic caliber, for a common purpose.
Marathons are not just for the physically fit. In fact, one can even argue that even the most physically fit will not be able to complete a marathon. A marathon is only for the strong-willed, for those who persevere. Anyone can run a marathon regardless of physical setbacks.
Thank you for exposing me to the beauty of marathons. You have inclined me to perhaps complete a marathon in the near future, either with a group or by myself.

Submitted by Sungheum Jo on

"Upon arrival to the starting village, Denise gave me her medication to carry during the race, which was a clear indication that not finishing was not an option anymore for me...It was funny to see Stacy being the pace whip and Denise making sure that we were all ok. The last five miles in Manhattan was a mixture of struggle, pride, and dealing with pain, while making sure nothing was going to happen to our exhausted bodies...As I approached the finish line, I was fully able to comprehend the tragedy of the 2012 Boston Marathon Bombing. Those runners were so tired, and the spectators so eager to cheer, and they suffered such a heinous and unjust destiny. We should never forget it...On Wednesday, I came to the office and while being surrounded by my colleagues, I mischievously stated, “I must confess to you…” One of them jumped the gun and said, “You did not finish it,” but I replied thinking of Marakami’s reflections, “I have never been passed by so many beautiful female athletes in my life."...The process of getting ready for global sporting festivals, like the New York City Marathon, deserves to be put on par with such agents of socialization as family, schools, peer groups, the media, religion, and employment as they teach us what we need to know in order to function properly in society...Sport can contribute to development and social change by rebuilding traumatized populations, rebuilding economies, serving as a model for democratic functions and influence, encouraging free communication, providing a safe haven for young generations, and serving as a peacemaker."

Submitted by Alex Cohen on

The determination to continue your pursuit of sport and excellence is incredible. As someone who is also on a similar pursuit of mastery over myself, I find this incredibly inspiring. That you were able to assist someone else only makes it even more special.

Submitted by M. Aguilar on

Very inspiring that someone at your age, not being old, but maybe a little less physically capable than those younger than you, can be so active and inspirational in the actions that you decide to take. You are making decisions that make a statement saying "I was here," impacting others lIves and making a difference in the perspective of the elderly.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This is an inspirational story that contains many obstacles which were overcome. More people should take an approach like you and learn to defeat the impossible challenges and make them a thing of the past. Thank you for being amazing.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Amazing how one experience can lead to another, which leads to extraordinary events to happen in the course of the unpredictable life we all encounter.
By simply doing what is deemed as "impossible," it shows how much strength and determination we all really have when it comes down to it. Knowing that you have so many people behind you makes the impossible, possible.

Submitted by Eva S on

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." You help find the goodness in others, despite your own problems. With the help of yourself, and others, you help society in such a positive way! You create bonds with people that are unbreakable. Keep it up!

Submitted by Sociology Student MC on

Very interesting and inspiring no matter what age you're what u suffer from if your mind is set do achieve something you should go for it..don't let anyone or anything discourage from what you want or stand on your way of archievement...way to go

Submitted by Fabrizio Claudio on

I had never seen a marathon from a sociological perspective until now. It is definitely a way to socialize, but in addition to that it encourages people to come together for a common interest despite the difference in backgrounds there might be. Moreover, it is also important to recognize that age or physical impairments should not influence us at all because it is the person's mind and determination that gets things done. We must provide support to our peers when they want to do something they want to do. Being supportive to others and participating in various events that involve many different people is imperative for a functional and society.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It sure seems like you put in a lot of hard work and serious effort into completing this race. The fact that you volunteered to help some others finish the race is an amazement on it's own. Please continue to keep doing good things for society!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I must say you're quite daring. Even those of us at wround age 19 and a little over are not that motivated enough to do something as difficult and testing as a marathon. But your story should inspire many of us into doing something that will test our strength and will power as the marathon did for you.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Not everyone can accomplish goals individually but I believe with others supporting from behind or striving to reach the same goal one can one day reach those goals. I believe Dr. SIbilski's article proves this. He was unable to reach his goal individually but with others supporting him as he supports them they can all reach their goals.

Submitted by Sahib Singh on

This story shows not only the remarkable story that Dr. Sibilski had embarked on with someone who was more than exceptional in regards to overcoming a disability and deciding to follow her passion, but it also expresses the limitations that can be broken when being accompanied by a friend or companion. Running a marathon at the age of 56 is an incredible accomplishment, and running while assisting another runner is beyond exceptional. Dr. Sibilski not only stepped over the limitations he had set for himself that day, but also helped another individual achieve her goal of completing the race as well. Overcoming tasks such as these with others, create bonds that last a lifetime.

Submitted by Kevin Rodriguez on

Its people like Dr. Sibilski who still give hope that there is still goodness in people. Dr. Sibilski is not only an outstanding writer, but also an inspirational person in all. He inspires all that no matter of age, race, sex, and/or disability, we all serve a common purpose to strive as a family and to create a bond amongst society. The amount of training and dedication that had to be placed in order to finish this 26.2 mile-long marathon is absoutley remarkable and amazing. This comes to show that ANYONE can make a difference in the world, and is an inspiration to all.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Good example of using the concept of "face saving" in social interactions to motivate your actions :)

Submitted by Anonymous on

With determination, one can concur anything. The possibilities are endless. Denise had a goal, and went for the finish line. It appears that the thought of NOT finishing hadn't even crossed her mind. It's inspiring to see her (and the rest of the team) accomplish something so physically and mentally demanding.

Submitted by Vivian on

You're an inspiration

It's an honor to be taught by you professor sibilski. You are truly and inspiration to your students and everyone around you. The way how you gave a helping hand to your friend was amazing. This article to me taught me that only you can put limits on yourself. Believe in yourself and you will achieve your goal or even exceed the goal. You practice so hard and when the time came to defeat the marathon you did! Your colleagues doubted you but, you provided them wrong.

Submitted by Jun on

An amazing story of the feats of the many athletes who have particated in the 26 plus mile marathon. although the idea of running might not amuse some people, it is a passageway to free our mind and relieve all the pressures placed upon us. We will continue to build a sense of unity through cooperation between people and circumnavigate through the negativity that hinders our goals.

Submitted by Student on

This was truly an inspirational article. Not only did Dr. Sibliski have to face the initial challenges of self doubt on his endeavor, he also didn't recieve much encouragement from his colleagues. But his sheer determination, and perseverance it took leading up to the marathon, and during the marathon shows what the human mind and body is truly capable of. He withstood extremely harsh conditions and still managed to keep a positive attitude in order to keep his team going! That's what sociology is all about.. Working with the people around you towards a common goal.

Submitted by Adam Tyler Chin on

For someone who feels like they've grown up in a culture that has become characterized by apathy and indifference, this definitely brightens my day. Having such strong team bonds and feelings of personal responsibility towards people who weeks before were strangers is astounding. The way these feelings eliminated any doubts on finishing the marathon for you and allowed you to do something that had to have been incredibly daunting is a true testament to what we can do when we come together to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.

Submitted by Ateela Koraganie on

This was very inspiring for so many reasons. One reason is because you can really do anything you put your mind to. It may seem difficult at first ,but if you never give up, great things will be bound to come your way. I will always remember this and I will cherish it when going through certain situations.

Submitted by Brandon Liu on

Former olympian, Leszek J Sibilski tackles the New York City Marathon at the tender age of 56! What could possibly go wrong? Being a student in the professor's sociology class, I am more than familiar with Dr. Sibilski's character and persona. At first glance, I would not have expected such an accomplishment from him. He does not appear at all like would one would expect a marathon runner to look like. However, that is merely a physical factor. Dr. Sibiliski has heart. To brave the ruthless, piercing 40-50 mph winds at an already frigid temperature takes courage or stupidity; thats up to you to decide. I falter at the idea of even training for a marathon. In contrast to what many would believe, I feel running takes much more mental balance and discipline than the physical aspects of training. Not only does Dr. Sibilski possess this quality, he has applied it to his goal of completing the 26 miles of brutality. Bravo, Sibiliski. You have inspired not only me but many others without a doubt as well. Keep up the hard work!

Submitted by Mildred Claros on

This is not only incredible , but beautiful, inspirational, & moving article , great job to Denise and professor Sibilski ! You both are role models to many people and me personally. Thank you for allowing me to see through a different perspective! Together we can accomplish anything !

Submitted by Brandon Liu on

Former olympian, Leszek J Sibilski tackles the New York City Marathon at the tender age of 56! What could possibly go wrong? Being a student in the professor's sociology class, I am more than familiar with Dr. Sibilski's character and persona. At first glance, I would not have expected such an accomplishment from him. He does not appear at all like would one would expect a marathon runner to look like. However, that is merely a physical factor. Dr. Sibiliski has heart. To brave the ruthless, piercing 40-50 mph winds at an already frigid temperature takes courage or stupidity; thats up to you to decide. I falter at the idea of even training for a marathon. In contrast to what many would believe, I feel running takes much more mental balance and discipline than the physical aspects of training. Not only does Dr. Sibilski possess this quality, he has applied it to his goal of completing the 26 miles of brutality. Bravo, Sibiliski. You have inspired not only me but many others without a doubt as well. Keep up the hard work!

Submitted by Anonymous on

This article truly embraces people who are disabled and is extremely encouraging to anyone who has any type of disability to pursue their dreams despite any circumstances.

Submitted by Anonymous on

What a touching and inspirational article... its so true - nothing can stop you if you want something bad enough. Not age, not a disability-- the human spirit can conquer against incredible odds. Thank you for putting a smile on my face today - I'm going to go put on my running shoes!

Submitted by C. Aaron on

In your article, I was struck by how you fully committed yourself to become part of a small group of people whom you had never met, and how quickly your group bonded to complete that arduous run. It is obvious that your Guide responsibilities greatly enhanced your satisfaction of the Marathon experience.

Congratulations to you and your running partners. I am sure that we will hear more humanizing stories about your sports adventures related from a sociological perspective. You are a great role model for our students.Thanks for sharing your story about running, sociology, and the human spirit.

Submitted by bart kaminski on

Chapeau bas! as they say in French to express admiration. This is a wonderful piece about what makes life meaningful and worthy. This story of fighting with one's weaknesses and gaining strengths as a result of these fights is particularly encouraging as in the process we, as human beings, become, well, more human. Again, thanks for sharing your experience that should encourage everybody to look beyond mere satisfaction of material needs.

Submitted by Aram Hessami on

It was quite an inspirational and a telling piece! One of the most important aspects of marathon-like events is not the competition itself rather it is the process. The entire physical and mental commitments and preparations, the hope and aspirations, the pains and suffering, as well as the agony of defeat and the jubilation of victory they all constitute a process that could provide many valuable lessons in social and political activism. And to change the world as we ourselves are changing in the process.

Submitted by Amber Rexrode on

Someone I admire dearly once told me that perseverance is the best trait a person can have. The "just keep going" mindset helps you to not only get through whatever you're going through, but to achieve what you once thought was impossible or too difficult. But when you finally get to the other side, you are a stronger and more accomplished person coming out of it. Not only did Dr. Sibilski demonstrate perseverance, but he is actively inspiring others to do so. His own success is tremendous, but to help other in their goals and their success is outstanding. Bravo!

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