It´s not at all rare to encounter individuals embarking upon an incredible journey; however, to truly meet somebody doing something ´exceptional´ isn’t an everyday occurrence. Recently, I was privileged enough to meet Nishe Hajime from Japan. If it wasn´t impressive enough that he’s set foot in over 100 countries, it really was perplexing to hear that he´s completed marathons in over 70 nations! Additionally, he´s a Guinness World Record holder having achieved the fastest time to complete seven marathons on seven different continents along with being the first non-North American to run fifty marathons in fifty US states. I can say without a doubt that he is one of the most inspirational people I`ve ever met. Obviously, he´s a man of impressive accomplishments, but it´s his life mission statement that´s above and beyond anything he´s ever achieved as a runner. To understand his passion it becomes necessary to examine his past.
Nishe´s life is not one without blemishes or tragedy. At a time when most families are celebrating the joys of having three small children and building a life together, Nishe lost his wife to cancer. Facing immense turmoil, he had to carry the burden of being a single father & president of his own company. Alone, either role would be daunting enough without even taking into consideration the tragic event that took place. Finding a way to continue on and find motivation & meaning in life after such an event would be challenging if not impossible for others; however, Nishe, stumbled upon running almost by accident & entered his first marathon in his forties. Ever since, he´s never looked back taking one confident stride after another.
Throughout his travels & marathons, Nishe was exposed to numerous cultures & diverse ways of life. Witnessing both the splendor & woe the world has to offer, Nishe became aware of his position as a global citizen during a crucial period of time in human history. Faced with environment issues that could impact the future of mankind, Nishe has great concern for the overall health of our planet. The 20th century was a time of technological advancement & human achievement, but also the most bloody period in human history. Nishe has a vision for the twenty first century that involves a global community that cooperates towards peace and environmental well being.
Over a delicious late night snack of brown rice porridge, miso paste, egg and broccoli we shared quite a few stories. It became increasingly apparent we had a lot in common. We couldn’t help discussing what we felt were some of the most globally disconcerting issues of today. Ego driven insanity has pushed the world to the tipping point. It´s been well documented that rampant materialism does not equate with happiness.
Nishe believes we need to adopt a more holistic approach to daily life. Instead of constantly striving and setting goals that are both stressful and burdensome, Nishe believes in living in the present moment conscious of the environment. It´s become his personal mission statement to always leave a place he´s visited in a cleaner, more environmentally sound state than prior to his arrival. He spent time cleaning up and organizing the kitchen in our hostel late at night when nobody else would notice. He wasn´t at all looking for recognition on his part.
Nishe also commented on his belief that running and life is not a competition. It´s not about who finishes first at the finish line. He commented that his worst time in a marathon was his best. He takes time to take photos of other participants and the scenery while spending a considerable amount of time picking up the rubbish & debris he sees scattered on the path before him. In a world that often rewards those who take short-cuts he’s clearly on a path that involves none.
Editors note: I wrote this story for family and friends two years ago before I started this travel blog. Although I’ve lost contact with Nishe I’m certain he’s accomplishing all of the goals he had set when I met him in Chicago.