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The Race Across America and the importance of Legacy

By - Richard - 23rd July 2021

The Race Across America and the importance of Legacy

In this video, I reflect on the lessons I learnt from making a documentary about British cyclist Jim Rees competing in the Race Across America, “the world’s toughest event” and why your legacy is something you could be thinking about now.

The Race Across America is a unique event which is really reserved for ultra-endurance athletes whose mindset is as strong as their body.

Unlike the Tour de France, once the race starts in California, the clock is ticking until the finish line on the east coast. There are no breaks, or rest days.

Jim was not a professional athlete. He had a job and a family to support, but he was driven by the belief that we are all built for greatness. His main reason for taking part in the Race Across America was to inspire others and to show what’s possible. This was the legacy he wanted to leave behind.

Jim was aiming to break the British record for the Race Across America, but along the way, he encountered a series of setbacks. The most notable of these was having a serious neck problem 1800 miles into the race. It’s a common problem for ultra-cyclists. Named after the cyclist Michael Shermer, Shermer’s neck occurs when the muscles in the neck fatigue and can no longer hold the head up.

In this video, I reflect on the final day of Jim’s race which remains one of the most amazing and inspirational things I have ever been privileged to witness.

One of the best things I learned from Jim is the ‘fingerprint metaphor’. If you imagine picking up a glass, each time you touch it you leave behind your personal fingerprint. It’s the same with every interaction we have, we leave behind our unique imprint on that person.

Every conversation, every look no matter how subtle, we leave our fingerprint. It could be a tut or a sigh. It doesn’t matter: we have just left a fingerprint with that person.

In life, it’s important that the fingerprint we leave behind is positive with everyone we meet. This is how to create a legacy.

What fingerprint will you leave behind?

About the Author

Richard Nicholls - Managing Director

Before launching Swift Films, Richard worked as a broadcast TV director and editor, working on programmes for the BBC, ITV and Sky.

A multi-skilled and technically-minded filmmaker, Richard is equally at home coming up with creative concepts as he is on location filming or pulling footage together in the edit suite.

Richard is a member of Independent Producers Scotland and has a love of cats, football, chocolate and Film Noir (in that order).