The hospitality in Georgia today, for myself and my family, was heartwarming. People were so gracious in making us feel comfortable and welcomed; it was like a homecoming with old friends. Runners are like that, we share a kindred spirit, and across the country we’ve felt this bond, regardless of the setting or the circumstance. In Georgia today, we felt that connection in a big sort of way.
Even before we got going, people were apologizing about the weather, as though they would change it if they could. The rain was coming down pretty hard at the start. We runners huddled under the one small shelter there was, trying to stay out of the elements for as long as possible. Despite the poor weather, there was no lack of enthusiasm in the group.
Georgia is an international city, and I let the group know that our adventure is being followed by people across the globe. We’ve received notes and well-wishes from many European countries, Canada, Africa, Asia, Australia, many South American nations, and a whole host of others (basically, camaraderie from around the world). Today we were fifty people, uniting a planet.
Rain? Bring it on! I got the feeling it would take a lot more than bad weather to stop this group. We set off on our way to the flashes of cameras and the cheers of the crowd. The wetness didn’t dampen spirits, even for the dozen first-time marathoners in the group. This was going to be a very challengingday, the showery weather would make things extremely demanding. Visibility would be poor, and hazards plenty. I was very concerned about the other runners.
So it was ironic that I would be the one to trip. It was a nice little spill, costing me a toenail and some flesh and blood. But I could hardly complain. The runner next to me had survived cancer, three times.He had refused to give up, even in the face of horrible odds. If he could endure through pain I could only imagine, I wasn’t about to let a little roadside tumble bring me down. My pain was nowhere close to what this courageous soul had been through.
We ran in what sometimes seemed like a battle zone. The rain continued to come down, flooding the streets and obscuring potentially hazardous potholes and open ditches. The run went on and on forever, and we missed a turn near the end, prolonging the drama. When the finish line finally did come into view, it was a welcomed sight. My anxiety continued to be high until every last runner crossed that finish line or was accounted for. It was treacherous out there, and I couldn’t stop worrying about the runners. I witnessed several others slip and fall, and my heart skipped a beat every time I saw it happen. Yet for all of my concern, the other runners were equally concerned about me. The credit for me being able to finish today belongs to them. They lifted my spirit and kept me going, even when I had doubts.
As remarkable as it seems, I still did not hear a single complaint from any of the runners. We gathered at the finish, and all I heard were upbeat affirmations on how memorable the day was. These were some of the most harrowing conditions possible, and even among the first-time marathoners, thepositive energy was irrepressible. Several people said how proud they were of me. I graciously accepted their kind sentiments, but all I could think of was how proud I was of them.
You are my hero’s, and I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart.
Battered and bruised, but unwilling to give up,