Joey Lee was in the race of his life—the 150-mile Marathon Des Sables, across the Moroccan Sahara Desert. On day four, Lee was still running, though other runners had already been airlifted out after surrendering to the heat or to physical exhaustion.
About 80 miles into the race, the air pockets in the soles of Lee's running shoes blew out, apparently from the heat. Lee was left with almost nothing to protect the soles of his feet as he ran over the sand and jagged rocks. Although he carried a backpack of provisions, it contained no extra shoes. His feet were blistered, his body exhausted from the 100-degree-plus temperatures. His eyes burned from the sand and sweat.
Facing another 30 miles to run that day and 40 more miles over the next three days, Lee refused to quit. The only sight ahead of him was the miles of desert, and the massive dunes he would have to overcome, but he pressed on. Three days later, Lee finished the race in the middle of the pack of 600 other runners.
Joey Lee was running for a reason. His young wife, Allison, had died almost a year and a half earlier after a long battle with cancer. Lee was running in memory of his wife and to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
Ignoring the mental and physical obstacles he faced, he finished the race. Afterward, when asked what kept him going, he replied, "I just thought about Allison a lot. This is nothing compared to what she went through."