Thursday, October 9, 2008

Warm souls

I've written in the past about how anywhere, anytime, a run can grab hold of you and warm your soul. After standing at the finish line of a recent 10-K road race, I should expand that to read “anywhere, anytime, a runner can grab hold of you and warm your soul.”

It was just a few days ago that an annual Turkey Tea 10-K took place and a number of our Club members were participating. A challenging twelve-miler the day before in preparation for a Niagara Falls event left me unable to participate, even if I had wanted to. But that's cool, I love to take pictures of my teammates “at work” and help out in any way I can to get them to both the starting and finishing lines.

Krista, our newest member, was first to arrive at the starting area, nervous as usual. She didn't say a whole lot, which for Krista is out of the ordinary, maybe it was the cold weather, maybe it was the panic that had taken over her body. She did comment that there seemed to be a lot of "real runners" at the event. A quick glance around led to my conclusion that skinnier, faster people are what Krista qualifies as real runners. I reassured her that she too was a runner. She told me her goal was to keep the back of the pack in view at all times. I told her not to worry about that, just put one foot in front of the other and run her race.

As the event got underway I moved into position for some starting line shots and then moved further along the race course for some more snaps before heading for the finish line. It was there that the soul warming occurred.

Everyone in our group finished as expected, almost as if scripted. Bruce flew in first--I’ve often wondered if he has wings now I’m sure of it. Judy followed that up with a great race, one of her best in fact. DG was right behind her, talk about picking up the pace. Next it was sisters Heather & Mary, both of whom, on separate occasions, had told me they were struggling emotionally with the race because they had registered for it last year but their mother's passing kept them from participating. I told them I saw it as a wonderful opportunity for the two of them to get together and honour their mother's memory by running it every year--they both finished with smiles on their faces. The Beav and Nan made their way in next, just another finish line, no sweat for them. That left just Krista and the ambulance on the race course.

Most of the other finishers had already gone inside out of the cold for post-race refreshments. I noticed a group of five or six runners heading back out onto the race course; figuring they were running back to the starting area to pickup their cars, I didn't give it a second thought.

A few more minutes passed and no Krista--her "keep the pack in view" goal had escaped her. We stood on the curb and chatted amongst ourselves for a little while longer. Just a few moments later a small group of runners came into view turning down into the finishing chute, all being led by our Club's newest member. I then figured out that those five or six runners had run back out onto the course to encourage, support and run with Krista as she moved closer and closer to the end of the race. And just as they neared the end, those other finishers that had gone inside for post-race refreshments came back outside to cheer as Krista took her last few steps toward the finish line.

It was another running moment that I will never forget. The true spirit of running was captured by those who participated in that 10-K race on that day and I'm glad I could be there to watch it all unfold. Krista was in tears (another ordinary occurrence) with a smile on her face from ear to ear--it was one of her longest runs ever.

One hundred people finished that 10-K event, and every one of them was a "real runner".

Run for your life.

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