Marc Herremans: A Struggle for Impossible
About Marc Herremans can be written thousands of articles, can be made movies, but nothing can accurately this inspirational story. This inspirational story can beat any Hollywood movie, because what Marc Herremans did can hardly be imagined and proved that nothing can stop the human will. “Mad Max” inspires millions of people, being a model of total devotion towards reaching his goals.
Marc Herremans youth revolved around adventure and sport. He wanted to be number one in a sport, so before reaching 20 years old he practiced football, boxing and cycling (let’s not forget the influence of Eddy Merckx in Belgium, the greatest pro-cyclist ever). At the age of 22, Marc Herremans discovered triathlon and he decided that this is the sport where he wanted to become the best. His trainers said that Herrremans had great potential and that shortly he would become a star.
In 2001, the Belgian finished 6th in the Ironman Hawaii, widely regarded as the toughest triathlon competition in the world. The Belgian became the best “rookie of the year” in the history of competition. But for Marc Herremans this was not good enough. He was decided that he would do better next year and he started tougher training. Everybody was expecting that Marc would fight for the podium in 2002.
Unfortunately, on 28 January 2002, any hope of winning Ironman Hawaii and becoming a legend was shuttered by a the terrible bike accident in Lanzarote, when Marc Herremans broke his back. The Belgian was brought to a hospital, yet the doctors quickly diagnosed that Marc had suffered total paralysis from his stomach to his feet, and would be forced to live in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
But this is the moment when Marc Herremans said “I wont give up”. He found the motivation and desire to become the very best. So after only 3 months after the accident, the Belgian started training for triathlon, as a wheelchair athlete. Remarkably, 10 months after the accident, Marc participated in Ironman Hawaii. Herremans was crowned sports personality of the year in Belgium.
In 2003, Marc Herremans reached third place in Hawaii triathlon as handcycle athlete. “Mad Max” returned in 2004 to finish third again, in 2005 second. The Belgian’s dream came true in 2006, when Marc finished first in Ironman Hawaii, achieving his long desired athletic goal. Sadly, his magnificent achievement was not recognized in any way by the officials, because wheelchair athletes do not receive any money prize. But, his struggle is more important than a dusted trophy, his actions will last forever.
In October 2007, “Mad Max” became the first person to complete the Crocodile Trophy with a hand bike. The Crocodile Trophy is one of the world’s hardest mountain bike races, traversing part of Northern Australia, contestants having to complete 1400 km in 10 days.
This was the man who inspired millions Marc Herremans. Respect for Marc, a man that managed to finish first the toughest race that few can even dare to start! His persistence and resilience transformed a tragedy into an extraordinary achievement.