The Financial Code of Ethics of The Ohio State University (bear with me) pulls no punches. I stumbled across it many years ago when I was updating some financial policies and procedures, and its opening paragraph is one I return to time and time again.
“Financial ethics is a fundamental and vital principle based on the expectations of individuals to do their best to distinguish between right and wrong and to always try to do what is right. Ethical behavior is not simply a matter of character. It is a matter of decision making, and ethics are advanced or depleted one decision at a time. Every individual is capable of making choices and is accountable for the consequences of those choices.”
42 women toed the line at the Thames Path 100 last weekend. 34 of them went on to cross the finish line and three of them, the Judiths and Joanne Turner, blew me away.
The Judiths ran together from start to finish. They arrived at Henley an hour and a quarter before the cut-off at a point in the race when it was becoming statistically unlikely that a finish was possible. Of the seven runners who came in behind them, only one made it to Oxford. One. And yet, when they came into Henley, the Judiths looked as though deciding to carry on was the easiest decision of the day. They looked similarly determined at both Reading and Whitchurch and by the time they arrived at Oxford they’d overtaken more than fifteen runners and had just under an hour in hand.
Joanne came into Thames Path 100 off the back of the Marathon des Sables and by Henley it showed. She lost fifty minutes against cut off between Reading and Streatley and another fifty minutes between Streatley and Abingdon but she didn’t give up. At every decision point, she opted to carry on and she walked away from the weekend with a buckle and a shiny new tee.
Joanne’s gutsiness and the Judiths’ steadfastness are the qualities that I would bottle if I could. And as I can’t, I shall adapt the Financial Code of Ethics of The Ohio State University.
Ultra-running is not simply a matter of physical fitness. It is a matter of decision making, and ultras are completed or abandoned one decision at a time. Every runner is capable of making choices and must accept the consequences of those choices.”