Over the weekend I volunteered at a 100 mile trail race. Yes, people signed up and paid money to run 100 miles on a very hard course. The race consisted of five 20 mile loops over a route that had hundreds of railroad tie stairs, climbs up bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, rocks, roots and grassy meadows as well as some treacherous downhill sections. Completing each loop brought runners back to the Start/Finish aid station where they were able to have the food and beverages they needed to keep going. As you might expect, running 100 miles takes a long time and involves running through the night. At about 3:30 a.m. I watched as a runner limped into the aid station after completing the first 60 miles. He grabbed some food, refilled his bottles, changed his socks and headed back out into the cold dark night with nothing but his headlamp lighting his way. He still had 40 hard miles to go, and he was hurting, but he had a goal. He had decided he would not quit, no matter how hard it got to keep going. He was a picture of perseverance.
Thankfully, having an effective compliance program rarely requires us to do something as physically taxing as running 100 miles, but sometimes it can feel like we are in an endless race against bad guys, HIPAA violations, fraud, waste, abuse, and ever changing regulations. As compliance professionals it is important to make the decision that regardless of how frustrating it may be, or how many times people ignore the training they have received, that we are going to persevere and continue to work to build and maintain an effective compliance program.
Just like the racer who still had 40 miles to go, the desire to give up because the end seems so far away, can sometimes be an enticing option, but it is our job to stay the course, keep the end in mind, and to push through the frustration and continue to do what we know is right for the organization.
About 12:30 that afternoon, I saw that same runner coming toward the finish line. The smile on his face, and the sense of accomplishment was something I will not forget. As he got his photo taken holding the belt buckle he received for completing the race, I saw a changed man. I asked him if it was worth all the training, and the pain he endured over the last 100 miles, and his response was priceless. “100 percent. The joy of victory lasts forever!”