AFTER THE WHISTLE

Incredible journey

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— All too often in sports, the idea of just making it isn't good enough.

Just ask the football team that finishes second in the NFL, or some of the American skiers who have been named to the U.S. Olympic team, but haven't enjoyed top results once they've gotten there.

But earlier this month, when local endurance runner Betsy Kalmeyer crossed the finish line of The Bear, a 100-mile running race in Idaho, just making it was the entire point.

It was the fourth 100-mile race for the local runner since July, and by finishing it, Kalmeyer had accomplished her goal of completing four 100-mile races in a single year. In the world of endurance running, it was a grueling journey that took Kalmeyer through the several emotional ups and downs over 400 miles of some of the most challenging terrain in several states. At times, Kalmeyer admits she wasn't sure if she would finish all four races. But she dug deep and, in the end, completed her own version of the Grand Slam.

It was a personal accomplishment for Kalmeyer. She wasn't rewarded with a million dollars at the finish line; she didn't get a spot on Good Morning America; and she didn't rake in the glory.

When she finally crossed the finish line at the final race, Kalmeyer was greeted and congratulated by just a few friends and supporters who truly understood the feat and what she had just accomplished.

While she had expected to be overcome with emotion at the finish line, Kalmeyer said in the end she didn't even shed a tear. She simply crossed the finish line where she was hugged and greeted by her friends she had finally made it.

Kalmeyer, however, said she left most of her emotion along the course. She used her emotion as she climbed mountain passes, she used it to ease the pain of the blisters on her feet and it was emotion that kept her going through the darkest hours along her journey.

Kalmeyer walks away feeling better for completing the journey and knowing that she accomplished what she set out to do.

As a fan, I an inspired that Kalmeyer reached this goal, but I am even more impressed with her journey.

I hope others in athletics, no matter if they play girls volleyball, high school football or professional basketball, can take something from Kalmeyer's journey.

While winning titles and trophies is always important, sometimes just getting there is what it is all about. Take some time and enjoy the journey.

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