I read this blog post shortly after the tragedy in Boston and it really resonated with me. The author references this quote from first woman to run Boston, Kathrine Switzer.
“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon”
It wasn’t until I ran my first race that I realized the amount of love and support races bring out in people. And not just the runners themselves. Granted, you feel the support from your fellow runners in that you’ve all trained hard over X amount of weeks to get to this point and you have a long (or short) distance ahead to get through together, but it was the support of complete strangers that amazed me most.
Strangers turned friends who wake up at the crack of dawn to call out your name along the race route. Those who make signs, dress up in costumes or play music to keep you entertained as you push through the middle miles. The hundreds of volunteers it takes to secure the route, distribute water and administer aid to those who need it.
If you want to see the good in people, go out and watch a marathon. If you want to see people encouraging others and donating their time to help people they don’t even know, stand on the side of the road during a marathon.
The first year I ran Champaign it was hot. Really hot for April. Residents pulled their hoses into their front yards and made makeshift water stations in between the sanctioned ones. Some even sprayed runners who asked them to. Runners who fell ill to the heat were caught (literally) by spectators and taken care of until emergency crews could arrive. If you want to see the compassion in people, go watch a marathon.
Last year it was cold. Really cold and rainy. Cheerleaders still lined the park shivering through their chants to motivate the runners. Kids handed out tissues and paper towels so you could keep your face dry. If you want to see the generosity in people, go watch a marathon.
And even this year in what were nearly ideal conditions for a race, the support was overwhelming. As we waited in the stadium for the youth run to begin some 7.5 hours after the start of the marathon, they announced that the final marathoner was heading towards the finish. Hundreds of children cheered and their parents clapped as the woman entered the end zone behind a police escort. If you want to see dedication in people, stay until the end of a marathon.
I don’t know if it was the aftermath of Boston or the fact that I was running 7 less miles than normal so I was actually aware of my surroundings, but I really noticed all of the support that goes into a race this year. It’s amazing what a community can do when everyone is working for the same goal. And at the same time, what something like a race can do for a community.
I had a lot of fun this weekend. Spending time with family, celebrating birthdays, cuddling Baby Aaron, seeing intoxicated college co-eds at 7 a.m. and eating way too much food. But perhaps my favorite part was getting to accompany Owen in his very first race for the Youth run.
Wind, rain and an untied shoe couldn’t stop this little athlete from sprinting to a honorable time of 3:30 for his first 1K. Perhaps the lactic acid had something to do with it but I had to sprint to keep up at the end. Regardless, I was thoroughly impressed.
As for this weekend, I’m excited to head down to Indy to visit with some of my best friends and experience a new race. Help me in praying for good weather so perhaps some new people can go out and experience a marathon.
Have a great week!