Tell Me Again: Exactly What Does Impossible Mean?

(Part Three in the Duane Morrow Series)

Duane Morrow had to travel a little farther than usual for his most recent race – 6,862 miles, in fact. He was nervous about this competition – it had been less than a year since he’d undergone additional neck surgery, and he was unsure of his ability to race well. He contemplated what kind of pain he’d be in during and after the Oita International Wheelchair Half Marathon. He wondered if it would be worth it.

As he stretched, he found himself surveying the other racers, determining who would be the top competitors. He figured out who he’d need to keep pace with and who he’d need to beat in order to bring his team (The Shepherd Center Spinners) to victory. He looked up at the rainy Oita, Japan, sky and around at all the other athletes. He knew he’d have to do his best – be his best – to win. So, in true Duane Morrow fashion, he was his best. And he won.

(To learn more about Duane’s amazing story of survival and recovery, read “The Adventure Continues.”)

Prepping for the Race
Primerica EVP and world-class athlete, Duane Morrow was the only American competing in the T52 Quad Division. The 44-year-old quadriplegic athlete crossed the finish line first, beating his personal best for the 13.1-mile tear at just 1:06:31. He gives some of the credit for his top showing to his racer – a real Georgia-made machine that sports the distinct University of Georgia “G” and the red and black that are so dear to his heart. The chair weighs about 23 lbs. and is composed of titanium, aluminum and carbon fiber components, much like top-end bicycles.

Even with a boss chair and rigorous training, Duane was surprised to win the largest and best-organized race of its kind in the world. (He dismissed his training schedule as just three to four days a week in a wheelchair doing some type of extreme exercise. “You know, rugby, racing or hand cycling,” he added, nonchalantly.)

When he crossed the finish line, he was just thankful to have run a good race, he recalled. “My GPS showed me that I’d beat my personal best and had done enough to beat the 2010 winner’s time, but it wasn’t until a reporter approached me for an interview that I knew I’d won first place,” he remembered. He was even happier to learn that Kevin Scott Stokes, also from a Shepherd Center team, did a personal best of 1:30:46 and placed first in the T51 Quad Division. (Kevin will be in England in 2012 representing the United States in the track and field events.)

With his personal translator and assistant, Duane braved the interview circuit, receiving accolades from the Oita mayor and high-ranking military officials and sharing his story of perseverance. Then he quietly and quickly made himself scarce. He had another important event to attend less than 24 hours later. Duane woke at 4 o’clock the next morning, took two buses, two planes and a car ride to make it back to Georgia just in time to drive the tractor pulling the Morrow “Fab Five” (his five children) and their friends around the neighborhood for trick-or-treating.

If you think something can’t be done, just ask Duane Morrow. If it’s worth it, he’d say, your doubt is the only thing standing in your way.

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