They say that running saves lives. Today it did, quite literally. We began the Baltimore Marathon this morning with a Police escort eleven strong. Our group was proceeding down a street just past the two mile mark when someone noticed smoke coming out of the window of a second story building up ahead. By the time we reached that building, flames were erupting out of the window and the heat from the fire reached us all the way in the street. We were told to dash ahead quickly and wait at the next intersection. The officers circled back and broke down the door. Rushing inside, they pulled three people out of the building, including a baby. It all happened so quickly, it was hard to make sense of what was going on.
After regrouping, we started off again, a bit shaken, but still intact. In talking with one of the officers, had they not been driving down that very street at that very time, there was likely no way they could have responded quickly enough to get those folks out of the building in time. By mere coincidence, our run had put them in the right place at the right time. Amazing start to the day.
We ran past some incredible places during the marathon, including Fort McHenry, the birthplace of our national anthem. You actually see the cannons and the place where the harbor was bombed. As we ran by, I could just envision Francis Scott Key watching, “…the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air…,” and it gave me goose bumps as we passed by.
As we ran past a local hospital, a mother of one of the runner’s was out in front taking pictures. He was a young guy, a first-time marathoner, and it ends up his brother was in the hospital with his sister-in-law, who was currently in labor. His Mom wanted to be part of both “events,” and as fate would have it, the hospital was right on the marathon course!
At mile 15, a local tavern was awaiting our arrival and had setup an aid station with water, and, get this, samples of beer. About half the runners partook. If you’ve got to get down the carbohydrates, I guess that’s one way to do it.
The Baltimore Marathon finishes at M&T Bank Stadium (Camden Yards). As we made our way down the final stretch, the streets were busy and crowded with people watching us run by. Someone yelled, “Why are you running?” One of the runners yelled back, “Because we can.” Everyone on the street applauded and cheered his response. Even though most of them were clearly not runners, I think they got the gist of his comeback.
At the finish, I was talking with one of the runner’s who had originally planned on doing the half, but decided to try the full marathon at the midpoint, and made it! I asked him if he had learned anything from the experience. “Yeah,” he said, “I learned that limitations are between my ears.” Today he turned off that part of his mind that says, “I can’t,” and just put one foot in front of the other, and did.
We also got some exciting news at the finish, our other first-time marathoner had just become an uncle! His sister-in-law delivered about the exact same time he completed his first marathon. I would say his Mom was one proud lady today. He was so excited to get his book and finishers certificate signed so he could dash over to the hospital.
I was honored to have the opportunity to meet the gifted athletes of the Special Olympics, Maryland at the finish. They were the most spirited and enthusiastic bunch I could ever imagine, and we joked and told stories about sports, and about life. They had been tracking on the Endurance 50 over the past 46 days, and they wished me all the best in completing the remaining four marathons.
It was another day to relish. The other runners were absolutely terrific, and their positive energy and passion will help carry me far. Best wishes to you all, and keep going strong. Why? Because you can.
P.S. The “finish party” in New York City will be on November 5th from 12:00-4:00 PM. The location is at The North Face retail store: 2101 Broadway (at 73rd), New York, (not far from the NYC Marathon finish). Phone number: 212-362-1000
All Endurance 50 participants (at any of the 50 marathons across the country), guests and fans are welcomed. So please swing by if you can. We’d love to see you!