As you are probably all well aware, especially if you follow RRG on a regular basis, tomorrow morning I will leave for the Smoky Mountain Relay. I should probably start packing, but instead, here I sit with my coffee and my laptop. Alas, I am a procrastinator. At 10 am tomorrow, I will join with 4 of my teammates at the Starbucks in Chesterfield valley, to embark on our epic road trip from St. Louis through Paducah and on to the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. Feel free to swing by Starbucks as we depart to offer words of encouragement…or to send us off with coffee. Either way is fine really.
In the aftermath of what happened on Monday in Boston, I can think of nothing I would rather do this weekend, than join with this ahhhh-mazing group of people to run an awesome race. The camaraderie of a relay is really like no other running event I know. It’s odd to think that running a race where you might not see another living soul while you’re out there getting through your assigned leg would provide camaraderie, but I assure you, it does. You might spend many hours sleeping during your “race”, but still, you feel the camaraderie. Chances are, by the end of the race, no one will want to be within 25 feet of you, but it’s really nothing personal, you just stink.
In all seriousness, this weekend is going to be intense. The raw emotion that was evoked from the devastation in Boston, also brings out the best in humanity, and that is what truly bonds us together. That is camaraderie.
Let me tell you a few stories about last year’s race. In the middle of the night, in a dark church parking lot, Nathan made me luke warm ramen noodles to get me ready for an upcoming leg. As I ran up a mountain on said leg, my team stopped and waited for me to cheer me on and give me Gatorade as I trekked upward in the pitch dark. When I was literally lost in the woods on my last leg, Ken came into the woods to find me and at one point was actually pushing me up the hill when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore. But, camaraderie is not just about noodles and Gatorade. And sometimes with camaraderie, you don’t have anyone right there next to you, you just have to trust that they are supporting you from afar.
I’m sure everyone on the course in Boston felt the camaraderie of their fellow runners right up until the blasts put a stop to Monday’s celebration. But what the blaster didn’t anticipate is that those explosions, rather that halting camaraderie, ignited that part of the human spirit that takes camaraderie to a whole new level. The way people ran in to help the injured. The stories of Boston residents coming out of their homes to provide for the basic needs of stranded runners. Strangers sharing cell phones to try and locate loved ones. I even read a story of a man who put his medal around the neck of a runner who was stopped just short of the finish because, honestly, we all know that every person who ran even a portion of the Boston Marathon on 4/15 was a finisher in the eyes of the running community.
None of my Smokin Aces teammates were in Boston, but we all knew people who were there in some capacity and you can be very sure we are planning to let everyone in the NC mountains know that we are running this weekend to honor Boston, just as I am sure most of the other teams will be doing as well. It may not be much, but it’s what we can do. Armbands, graffiti on the van, a moment of silence at the start. Anything little thing to remind the rest of the world about what camaraderie looks like, just helps to unite us all against the horrible, hateful crimes that keep occurring way too frequently.
This Friday and Saturday we will be running to stand together as a united front against fear and violence. We will be running to honor those who have fallen, those who lived through a nightmare, and those who ran to help. We will be running to ensure that cowards who try to tear down the human spirit will not win. We will be running because we are grateful that we can. We will be running to remember what camaraderie looks like. But mostly, we will be running just to remember.
This is Rambling Runner Girl, signing off, until we meet again on the other side of the Smokies…