Some people live a lifetime of making excuses to justify their virtual inertia. Others, such as Rick Ball, a subway mechanic from Ontario, Canada, forego the excuse making to make World Records -- THREE in 2009, to be exact. And it's not that Rick couldn't have come up with his own list of justifications (excuses!) as to why he couldn't become a World Champion, or even a good long-distance runner. He could easily have decided:

•Too Old -- he was past his prime, being in his early forties
•Too Inexperienced -- he'd only started running less than two years earlier
•Too Difficult -- all the snow, ice and cold of the Canadian winters make it hard to get in the requisite training
•Too Busy -- all the training required would be too time consuming for a father of two with a physically-demanding full-time job, AND besides, training for marathons as an elite runner is extremely HARD WORK
•Only One Leg -- actually, one whole leg -- Rick is a below-the-knee left-leg amputee

Rick started running for the first time since his motorcycle accident in 1986 when he was fitted at age 41 with a running-supporting carbon fibre prosthesis. His first attempts to run -- around a short indoor YMCA track -- left him out of breath after a mere two laps. Under the tutelage of a world-class coach, however, and with much hard work, he made rapid progess, to say the least.

Encouraged by his weekly improvement and having been running for just a few months, Rick set a lofty goal to not merely qualify for the epic Boston Marathon, but to qualify using the able-bodied standards for a man his age. In July of 2008, at the Toronto Marathon, he ran an impressive 3:10, qualifying for Boston with about seven minutes to spare; seeing by this time that he was only six minutes off the World Record for a unilateral amputee, he set his sights on that record and on breaking the three-hour barrier.

In April of 2009, less than two years removed from his first laborious post-accident attempt at running on his new prosthesis, Rick ran Boston in a World Record 3:01:50. Although he didn't reach his goal of breaking three hours, he had smashed the former record of 3:04:00. His time placed him in the top six percent of the approximately 25,000 marathoners in the race. Even though Rick found that breaking the World Record was "harder than the accident" in terms of mental and physical pain, he wasn't done yet.

A month after his Boston Marathon success, in May, Rick ran the MDS Nordion 10K (6.2 miles) in Ottawa, Canada, in a World Record 37:37 (an amazing 6:03/mile). Then in September, with a goal to set a new unilateral-amputee World Record for the half marathon (13.1 miles), he accomplished his mission with a 1:20:44 perfromance, breaking the old record by a little more than a minute.

In a couple of years Rick Ball went from struggling to complete two laps around a short indoor track to breaking three monumental World Records. As we can clearly see, he could have easily made excuses as to why the mere thought of becoming an elite runner was sheer folly. He didn't. Because he doesn't think like everyone else, like the average person, he doesn't get their results. He gets to enjoy the thrill of reaching extreme goals, of becoming that rare thing -- a World Champion! Rick Ball reminds us that we can make excuses or we can make tracks.

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From Ed Mayhew -- author of Fitter After 50 and other books, CDs, articles ... on how you can make falling apart as you age merely an option, not a mandate.