I’ve wondered what kind of sicko invented the first hurdles event in Track and Field? Think about it- someone decided that running as fast as humanly possible wasn’t tough enough, let’s put some obstacles in front of the runner and see what happens. I decided to do a little research, here’s what I learned. Hurdling probably originated in England in the early 19th century, where such races were held at Eton College about 1837. By 1864, both Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England were formalizing this event. They placed massive structures over a 120-yard course. Runners were required to clear ten 3 foot 6-inch-high hurdles. The height and spacing of the hurdles have been related to Imperial units ever since.
In 1896, the hurdles were added to the modern Olympics. Today, the hurdles are an important part of the Olympic Track and Field events. The events range in distance from 110 meter (men)/ 100 meter (women’s) to the 400 meters (both).
Do you let obstacles get you down?
I think there are some things we can learn from hurdlers. These men and women train for obstacles. They run looking for and ready to overcome the obstacles. Most of us, if we tried hurtling would end up flat on our face. That’s because there’s a lot of training and preparation that goes into preparing for the hurdles.
The first time I ever tried the hurdles was a disaster. I ran as hard as I could, not knowing how to position my feet, I almost ran face first into the hurdle. After lumbering over the first hurdling, I barely started running again before I reached the second hurdle. After almost climbing over this hurdle, I stumbled to the next. This continued, until I reached the end of the race. Exhausted, disappointed, frustrated I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to compete in this event.
Everything changed when somebody showed me the technique to get over those obstacles. If you watch the great hurdlers these men and women are amazing athletes. They effortlessly glide over those obstacles! They have learned to master efficiency in the hurdle event. They have mastered the art of facing difficulty!
How to Run Hard in the face of difficulty.
How well do you handle difficulty? Are you one of those people that can’t seem to get back into a rhythm after running into an obstacle? Do the hurdles really throw off your stride? If you have trouble running again after facing obstacles, the book of Ecclesiastes has something to say to you. The race doesn’t always go to the fastest (Ecclesiastes 9:11). We all run in to obstacles. No one knows when they’re going to hit the next big obstacle (Ecclesiastes (9:12). So be ready for the hurdles at any moment.
Edwin Moses is one of my favorite Olympic athletes of all time. For almost 10 consecutive years Edwin Moses was never beat in the hurdle. Winning 122 consecutive events and two gold medals, he remains one of the world’s greatest hurdlers. Moses explained his success. He said it boils down to hard work and good training. “I always got my work done before playing” Moses once said in an interview. He knew that if you’re going to be successful it’s going to take a lot of hard work. He also said, “I used biomechanics to save time when I was competing.” Sometimes just working harder doesn’t make you successful. Working smarter may be the difference between good and great.
Here’s my challenge to you… run hard no matter what obstacles are placed before you. Face the challenges head on. Of course the obstacles are going to cause you to stumble- that’s the very nature of an obstacle. Don’t let stumbling cause you to leave the race. But, at the same time, be ready for the obstacles. Do your homework. Prepare for problems. Be ready for whatever life may throw at you. Work hard and work smart. And when you trip and fall over the first hurdle- pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get ready- because there’s probably another obstacle waiting around the corner.