ROBERT “BOB” HARDY
The Walker Runner
PAST. PRESENT. FUTURE.
Robert Hardy is a mean competitor! I mean this in the nicest possible way. He doesn’t possess something as subtle as a competitive “streak.” He is a full-body, head-to-toe competitor, in spite of all the difficult health challenges he has dealt with in his remarkable life. It’s his competitive drive that helps him get him through it all. And it’s this same competitive drive that pushes him to reach out to other people and to encourage them to join him in the ride, the walk, the run, or whatever the latest action might be.
He is a “walker runner” – something that looks like a misprint but isn’t. Given his encounters with leukemia, bone marrow transplants, balance problems, and a long list of other challenges, he has taken on marathon running (yes, as in going fast against the clock). And he now does that with the aid of his slightly modified walker, hence: walker runner. Boston Marathon 2020 look out!
At his recent presentation at the Shenkman Arts Centre, “Maestro” Bob Hardy regaled the audience with stories (and video!) of episodes in his life in rock music, competitive ju-jitsu, competitive bicycle racing, competitive IV pole racing, and now competitive walker running in marathons. None of this is a side-hobby, a diversion, or just a bit of a lark. Competing means pushing himself, not giving in, never giving up hope. And, for him, winning!
His competitiveness is the drive to go beyond what you think might be possible. He uses his stories and his accomplishments to encourage others he meets along the way to join him in the task of facing all of life’s challenges, head on. He not only talks about courage, determination, discipline, commitment, independence, healthy lifestyle choices, he also makes it apparent just how much fun he has doing all of this. Despite the inevitable pain.
His is a compelling story, and he is a brave, inspiring, and very funny storyteller. His message is that competition is not always about winning (though for him it certainly is!), it’s about responding to the heath challenges that each of us will confront on our own journey through life. We entered this “race” the day we were born. And we’re still in it, even as various bits of us refuse to function as they once did. But you don’t give up. You don’t moan. You make yourself go around that track once more, up that hill again, down the course a second time, ever closer to whatever finish line we choose to set for ourselves. Oh yes, and it’s a rule that each of us must have a really good laugh along the way, no matter how much pain we might be in.
July 2, 2019.