Two weeks ago in Buenos Aires, Argentina, more than 400 competitors embarked on perhaps the most epic adventure in motorsports: The Dakar Rally.
Just over half of them would make it back to Buenos Aires for the finish on Saturday.
But while Nasser Al-Attiyah, Marc Coma, Rafal Sonik, and Ayrat Mardeev emerged as class champions and ultimate victors, the other 200-plus that completed the 5,600-mile journey across Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile surely feel like winners as well.
The Dakar, like any other race, is a challenge of man and machine. And like any other race, the objective is the same: Be faster than everybody else.
But the Dakar is a test that is worlds apart from Daytona, from Indianapolis, from Le Mans. With all due respect to those prestigious events, the Dakar may be the one event that tests the human element more than any other.
One minute, you’re pushing like hell down a dusty or muddy road in a race against time. Another minute, you’re under a busted vehicle, trying desperately to fix its problem and get back to business.
All the while, you must continue to persevere, no matter the obstacle. It is the most essential quality needed to succeed in this race. Your vehicle may not always stay rock-solid, but your fortitude cannot fail.
For those that compete in the Dakar, their fortitude collides with what they’ve considered as their personal limits.
It is then up to them to go beyond those limits in pursuit of victory – whether that involves a trophy, confetti, and headlines, or simply proving something important to themselves: You can. You will.
In closing NBCSN’s Dakar coverage for 2015, Leigh Diffey delivered a final monologue that summarizes the meaning of the world’s toughest rally. You can check it out in the clip above.