Against all the odds, Joey Evans proved the tenacity of the human spirit when he conquered the Dakar Rally a decade after a tragic motorbike accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. In his book “From Para to Dakar” he recounts his inspirational journey from paraplegic to Dakar Rally finisher.
Being the most grueling off-road race in the world, the Dakar Rally pushes competitors to their limits over 9000 km of strenuous terrain in South America.
However, it resembled the physical challenge that he was confronted with and Joey decided when he was still in hospital that finishing it was his way of “beating it”.
This was a tough journey of no guarantees and he could not allow himself to have any expectations. He equates it to “swimming underwater holding [his] breath, not knowing how long [he] had to keep going for.”
There were triumphant moments, deflating moments, and everything in between, however, each day Joey was a step closer than the last. His coping mechanism was to break his overwhelming goals down to daily doables and to commit to those wholeheartedly.
He also had to humble himself to accept help and his new limitations. Despite his naturally competitive nature, Joey came to learn when he started racing again that he was only competing against himself and trying to outdo where he was yesterday. He would ardently visualize crossing the finish line and considering what he had already overcome made it impossible for him to give up.
The going was tough with physical exhaustion and sleep deprivation. To make matters worse, injury and a near-fatal accident that demolished his
own bike, flared his self-doubt and tempted him to quit.
However, focusing intendedly on each kilometer at a time and starting each day anew eventually took him across the finish line. The 9th South African to complete the race, he describes his victory as an unreal relief that he sometimes pinches himself to believe.
Joey evinces that the mind is everything and the body merely submits to it. His advice to anyone tackling big dreams in the face of adversity is to set their intention as when things seem hopeless, it is sometimes the opening chapter of an incredible story and the ending is entirely up to you.