Why do I compete?

why compete image

Why do I compete?

     I completed the San Juan 70.3 Ironman last weekend in six hours flat. From the outside looking in it was an anti-climatic race for me in that my time wasn’t especially fast and it was after all my fifteenth Half Ironman distance race in ten years.  Due to a few reasons related to a surgery from this past November I suffered more than usual during the race. It is typical that during a race I debate with myself and doubt enters my mind as to why I am racing. This doubts usually passes quickly as the thrill of finishing the race combined with positive reinforcement from spectators and fellow competitors takes over.

This time it was different for me. I finished, felt dizzy, and was suffered to the point I visited the medical tent and got an IV in anticipation of a rough recovery. After twenty two years of wheelchair sports and eleven years of motocross I never visited the medical tent to my knowledge. This unique experience has prompted me to think a bit more deeply as to why I compete?

This isn’t the first time this has question has come up for me. Most recently post Ironman World Championship victory I had post race thoughts of what was next and generally felt unfulfilled. This question has allowed me to more closely examine what is important and what truly will create fulfillment in my life.

Now three years post Ironman World Championship victory I can appreciate what it took to accomplish my goal and how special it is to have that experience. I feel empowered to the point I feel like I can accomplish anything I put my mind to if I am passionate and determined enough. It is a really an amazing feeling. So that still doesn’t answer why I compete.

After thinking about this for a week straight I have come up with a few insights. Firstly, I race because I have raced since I was six years of age and love the process of a challenge. No matter the sport or the circumstances I thrive on having a dream to work towards and the more resistance I incur the more I want it. This explains why I love triathlon, it is a tough sport that requires relentless work ethic to be successful.

Secondly, I now race because I gain pleasure in showing the world that just because I use a wheelchair doesn’t matter a bit. I love that people respond positively to what I accomplish. After all what I do is hard work regardless of a wheelchair or not. Its taken me a long time to realize its not solely about what I accomplish that will bring me fulfillment. I have learned its important that I make meaningful connections with people along my journey in which we enrich each others lives.

This line of thinking has showed me its not so meaningful that I am competing but rather I am living my life doing what I am here for which I feel we are all meant to do in some form and that is connect. That being said just because I am busy connecting doesn’t mean I plan on giving my competition any hall passes this year!

Cheers! -Jason

1 Comment

  1. Mary Azzarto Ciampa
    March 25, 2013

    Thank you for posting this heartfelt response to a question I think many triathletes ask themselves. It is important to think about and remember on race day. You said it to me in San Juan, it is about the process and what we learn during the training. It is about the connections we make and the lessons we learn about ourselves. It is tough to remember this when we are suffering during a race, but it is what we need to think about when the thoughts of giving up enter our mind.

    Thank you for sharing and for inspiring us all to follow our dreams!


ABOUT JASON FOWLER Jason grew up in Kingston, Massachusetts and was a nationally ranked amateur motocross racer by age 10. At the age of 17 he became paralyzed from the chest down, after colliding with a rock while out practicing on his motorcycle. Since his accident he has completed over 150 road races, 30 marathons, and 29 triathlons all with the use of his arms. He won the Ironman World Championships in 2009 in Hawaii and recently won the 2012, 70.3 Half Ironman World Championship in Las Vegas. Jason works as a Medical device consultant for Medtronic, serving the Greater Boston Area. Jason regularly volunteers his time to encourage physically injured children and adults into the world of athletics. He also trains and motivates aspiring able bodied athletes. Jason is an avid triathlete, competing regularly in Half Ironman's, and his passions include health and wellness, health coaching, healing via nutrition and raw food, superfoods, spirituality, and motivational speaking.