Rhode Island is known as the “Ocean State,” and the Breakers Marathon takes place entirely onAquidneck Island. The weather today was absolutely flawless, so the views along the course were stunning. We ran along the beachfront, the shimmering Atlantic providing a picturesque backdrop, through quaint backcountry roads bathed in fall colors, by beautifully manicured ranches and lazily flowing brooks, past the majestic Gardiner Pond, and through the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. Although Rhode Island is the smallest state in the union, its marathon is one of the prettiest.
The group today was diverse. We had a college student from Yale running with her father, a handful offirst-time marathoners, a couple celebrating their 13th wedding anniversary with this marathon (and he was one of the first-timers!), a runner finishing the last of four consecutive marathons with me, several who would be running the next marathon tomorrow with me, a couple that would be running all the New England states with me, a cancer survivor, an ex-smoker, an ex-drinker, and a real estate developer who recently quit his job to become an environmentalist. The Race Directors also ran with us, and one of them, Don Allison, publisher of Ultra Running magazine, clicked off running the entire marathon.
We stuck together as a group for most of the first twenty miles. The roads were quiet, so traffic wasn’tmuch of a concern. The support vehicle was right by our side most of the way, and along with handing out food and liquid, they had rigged up stereo speakers to the roof rack and were blasting the tunes as we ran. It was a pretty cool setup.
The finish was on the Gaudet Middle School track (two laps; the first in lane #4, and the second on the inside lane). We hung around the infield of the track cheering on the other runners as they came in, and playing football with my son, Nicholas. The first-time marathoners were just amazing, smiling from ear-to-ear as they crossed the line. Incredibly, all of them made it to the finish today, except one.
He was a determined guy, a jet pilot with formidable resolve. He’d mentioned knee pain at mile 15, “It might take me some time,” he said, “But I will make it.” I didn’t doubt him.
But now I was starting to. He wasn’t that far behind, what could have happened? Then I heard some gasps from the crowd, followed by loud applause. His knee was indeed problematic, to the point that he couldn’t run any longer. Coincidentally, another runner happened to be driving by and spotted him on the side of the road. The offer of a ride was declined, but the offer of a potential remedy was accepted. The other runner used Duct Tape to create a temporary knee brace. With his knee “duct taped” intoposition, our runner managed to cover the last several miles!
I think Nietzsche said it best, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”
Inspired every day, and still putting one foot in front of the other,