... go alone; if you want to go far, go together?
"It is most often cited as an 'African proverb,' though it’s also attributed to Warren Buffet, Hilary Clinton, Cory Booker, Al Gore and others." (Sic - Andrew Whitby)
Wherever it came from, there's no arguing it's worth, with many recorded examples in sports of all nature and format.
Just after 7:00 pm on Wednesday, October 19th, in the town Kasterlee, about 40km to the east of Antwerp, Merijn Geerts and Ivo Steyaert changed the LOS landscape in dramatic fashion.
Much has been made about the camaraderie and teamwork the pair adopted to achieve their goal - and that of the team - in recent days. Mind bogglingly, there have been plenty of detractors of the contrived joint finish (for what it's worth, we think it was awesome!) - it shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone. We suggested it may be the outcome while they were out on lap 100, and we weren't the only ones.
Think about it. After four days together on the same course as your friend, teammate, compatriot, if he or she broke down during a lap, could you run ahead to claim a 'win'? By the same token, if he or she stood at the start of a lap and indicated they were finished, could you head out on your victory lap?
Most would, I think. We're not all that chivalrous or noble in the moment. The win would always feel a little hollow, but you won, and nobody could take it away from you, right?
Some wouldn't. Like these guys:
Throughout the build up to the Last One Standing 2022 Satellite Team Championship, team Belgium had been pushing #Breaking100. With a team boasting solid credentials and obvious potential to go deep (including Geerts of course, who held the existing record at 90 hours), there'd been no hiding their intentions beyond the result of the team event itself. Sure, many of the teams would have been hoping to go as long, but probably only a handful would have thought it realistic.
In the end, the team event was won by the United States, with Belgium eventually overhauling the Australian team's total to clinch second place, by virtue of Geerts' and Steyaert's efforts.
Much has been written about the feats of the many, and understandably even more about the first runners in the format's history to complete 100 laps. That's for another day.
But back to teamwork, and it's effect. Yes, it was mesmerising watching events unfold but, as with any event, nothing can happen without the support of volunteers, crews, and the backroom.
Aside of the phenomenal results achieved throughout the four days, something memorable, probably unnoticed by most, stands out: the activities of one, Alex Holl.
Among other things, Alex, along with Michael Ohler and many others, look after team Germany. They finished the event in 14th place, by virtue an accumulated 484 laps, including Hendrik Boury's 46.
When they wrapped up, Alex drove 300km to Kasterlee, assisted the event crew until the end, then made the return trip before starting to compile the start list for next year's Big's Backyard Ultra 2023, including those that will, for the time being, make up the at large list.
It turns out that the team, in the Team Championship, is inclusive of all teams, all runners, every crew member, every organiser and every event crew member. Sure, we all want our respective teams to go well, with individual results being secondary to the team (after all, Geerts and Steyaert gained a place for the Belgium team by virtue of their exploits). When Lazarus Lakes asked the two about their finish during a post event interview, Ivo Steyaert stated as much, simply saying, "it is a team event, after all".
If we take the view that each national team is a member of the team, pushing every other nation to accumulate more and more laps, those nations team members pushing themselves to find their limit while doing so ... isn't everyone involved, globally, in some way a small part pf the result?
Probably not. It may be a bit fanciful to believe it's the case. Human nature dictates that there's a point whereby most are looking at what they can do, what they can get. It's different for every individual, of course and we may arrive at that point at a different time to the next man or woman, but it's there for most, most of the time.
On this occasion, I don't believe it crossed Alex Holl's mind ... though you'd have to ask him!