If you were asked to name the top three greatest athletes as quickly as you could, chances are you’d offer up a few of these familiar characters: Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, Jesse Owens, Billie Jean King, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Michael Phelps. These are household names—heroes of sports we’ve all known for years. But, when we leave the world of national leagues and associations, the greats are a little less familiar. In no particular order, here are six people we think are truly amazing athletes.
- Ann Trason – Trason is an ultra-marathoner from California who, thus far in her career, has broken more than 20 world records. She has set nearly 10 course records, demonstrating not only her amazing ability to power through 50 or 100-mile races, but the perseverance to show up again and again. She couldn’t complete the Western States 100 the first two years she entered. However, she kept coming back. She went on to win this race 14 times and set a course record that stood for 18 years.
- Scott Jurek – Jurek initially hated running. You’d never know it now! He’s essentially won all the prestigious ultra-marathons, from Badwater to Western States. Many of these races he has won more than once, like his seven first-place finishes at the Western States 100. Jurek, who’s loved training and competing outdoors since childhood, has been a vegan since 1999 and credits much of his success and quick recovery to his plant-based diet.
- Mark Allen – Allen, like Trason, provides us a great example of chasing your dreams despite setbacks along the way. He lost the Ironman Triathlon Championship. Six times. To the same person! However, when Allen won Ironman in 1989, he went on to answer each of those previous losses, earning a total of six gold medals at the competition.
- Ryoichi Sekiya – Not only has Ryoichi won two Spartathons, the 153-mile races held in Greece each year, but has earned a gold medal in the IAU 24-Hour World Championship… four times! In these races, he ran at least 263km in 24 hours.
- Chris Wille – A four-time Ironman and Canadian businessman by day, Wille won the inaugural South American Epic in 2015, a race that extends over 134 (yes, 134) days and takes cyclists from across the full South American continent, top to bottom. We have incredible respect for Wille’s dedication to this sport and his incredible tenacity. The images of the race course demonstrate not only its beauty, but the difficulty Wille overcame to complete and win this race!
What athlete stands out in your mind as among the greatest of all time? How do you measure greatness in an athlete? How does their success and ability inspire you? Join the conversation below to let us know and to stay in touch with all things #ITSTHENERVE as we get ready for our launch this spring!
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