The finish line had closed at midnight, course marshals had asked him to give up four times and his bad ankle was killing him, but Dwight Griffith was on a mission and nothing was going to stop him from reaching his goal.
At 1:15 a.m. Sunday, 17 1/2 hours after he started, Griffith crossed the finish line to complete the 140-mile Ironman Triathlon in Columbia.
It wasn't easy, and his body wanted to quit along the way, but Griffith pressed on, mind over matter, he said.
"Never lose sight of your vision at end. If you don't give up and keep that mind over matter mindset, you can do anything you want," Griffith, 60, of Fallston, said Tuesday. "I was able to demonstrate that. If I can accomplish this, just imagine what you can accomplish."
That's the message of his foundation, the Griffith Never Give Up Foundation, which helps good people overcome life's unexpected challenges.
The mindset is about not giving up, even through the triathalon course marshals tried to get Griffith to give up.
"They started coming to me at 10 p.m., telling me I'm going to be an hour after the finish. They told me to call it a day and hop in the wagon," Griffith said. "I said "Nope, not going to happen.' Four times they tried to get me to quit."
At mile 21 of the marathon, the last of the three legs that included a 2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bike ride, organizers took his timing chip and made him sign a waiver of responsibility.
As he walked/ran/limped his way through the last 8 miles — in the dark and without aid stations that had long before been broken down — his 20-plus supporters were with him.
Most of them are members of Boy Scout Troop 809 in Jarrettsville, and they had been there all day.
"It was awesome. They understood what it was all about," Griffith said.
Finishing the Ironman didn't feel anything like what he thought it would.
"I expected to be overwhelmed with emotion from the physical accomplishment of reaching a goal. I didn't have that at all," Griffith said. "Instead, I was overwhelmed with love and support of all the people that were there."
Griffith said he didn't set out to be a role model; no one does, he said.
"I don't think anyone goes out to inspire people. They don't do it intentionally, it just happens," he said. "When people do things that are genuine, not done for superficial reasons, that's what happens."
Too many people don't try to reach their goals because they don't think they can. Griffith begs to differ.
"If you break it down to first having a vision, then have a series of measurable benchmarks to achieve that goal or vision or dream. Knock down one at a time and over time, you'll be surprised at what you can do," he said.
Those dreams, however, won't be accomplished without taking action.
"You have to make things happen. Not hope thing happen, go make it happen," he said. "People can't limit themselves because they think they're not capable. They don't know what htey're capable of until they try."
After the race, he hurt so badly he needed a walker. Afraid to stand, he sat under the hot shower. He used a walker Sunday, and a cane Monday. By Tuesday, he was cane free.
Griffith, who completed an international distance triathlon, a half-marathon and full marathon in the years leading up to Saturday's Ironman, is done. He may do a 5K for a charity he likes, but he said he's auctioning off his road bike, with the proceeds going to his foundation, and turning his attention to helping others.