Monday, June 23, 2014

You should watch a marathon-Grandma's Marathon weekend

On Saturday, I loaded up the car, complete with two bikes, one bike trailer, and one tag-along, not to mention snacks, books, and art supplies. Then I scooped Audrey and Asher up at 4:50 am and plopped them in their carseats so we could pick up a friend to drive to chilly, foggy Duluth to cheer at Grandma's Marathon.
Shaun and Audrey biking along Lake Superior 
Asher in the bike trailer for optimal marathon viewing
Have you ever cheered or volunteered at a marathon? It is honestly one of the most life-affirming, inspiring ways to spend a day.

If you have, then you know I'm not exaggerating.

If you haven't, here's what you might see.

Let's get the gross stuff out of the way first. There will be bloody nipples. There will be gastrointestinal issues. There may even be a dude running in an American flag thong. Unfortunate, but true.

Here's the pay-off. You'll see grit, fierce determination in the face of overwhelming odds, the will to finish what one started, dedication, teamwork, and strength. The kind of strength you discover is within you only when you're at the very end of your rope and have exhausted every other option. You just have to dig in and make it happen.

You will see that in spades in a marathon. From the wheelchair racers to the elite runners zooming by at a pace that seems impossible to sustain to the regular joe runners to the people fighting through injury, illness, and mental exhaustion in order to cross that finish line. They will run, walk, or crawl to get there.

They will do this because they trained for this and because they are the kind of people who, unless it is absolutely impossible, will finish what they started. It's one of the reasons companies want to hire runners in general and marathoners in particular. It's one of the reasons runners make wonderful friends.

Every marathoner has a story, a reason they decided to push the limits on what our bodies are capable of in order to run 26.2 miles. It is a beautiful thing to watch. So if you've lost faith in humanity and think the world is full of creeps and crooks, go cheer at a marathon. Watch the young runner prop up the older runner until the finish line is within sight and then let him finish on his own. Watch the woman stop on the side of the road to stretch her muscles and hear the other runners shout encouragement to her as they pass until she starts running again. Watch the wheelchair racers zoom by, showing us all just how able people with disabilities are.

Every time I watch I am inspired and filled with awe. Every time I watch, I am more certain that someday I'll be crossing the finish line instead of cheering at the finish line.

The people of Duluth, from the spectators to the volunteers to the course marshals, go out of their way to make this a wonderful event. The course along Lake Superior is stunningly beautiful. It was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday. Congratulations to everyone who raced this weekend. You are awesome!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again for coming up to cheer! It is no small thing to dot all of the i's and cross all of the t's to make that happen, and it meant more than you know to see familiar, encouraging faces in the crowd :)