If you have to be up at oh-dark-o’clock in the morning, this isn’t a bad view.
On a whim, I signed up this week to volunteer at the St. Louis Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon. For the first time in years, I didn’t have any family running and, after Chicago last weekend, no way was I doing it. But after receiving the kindness of volunteers as a participant in more than a dozen races this year, it felt like it was my turn to give back.
And frankly, I was assigned some pretty awesome jobs this morning.
My first big job was at the start line as a corral leader.
A familiar view.
And they were off. Conditions could NOT have been more perfect. For a millisecond, I’d wished I was running.
Then, I headed to the finish line where I got to give out finishers medals.
This was AH-mazing. I’ve still got the feels.
I cannot tell you how many times I teared up as 10,000+ finishers came pouring in. First, I got teary because a few of my friends came through and one of them had achieved a PR. But to be honest, more of the tears came towards the end with the back of the pack. There was a man who ran his first half marathon after having both knees replaced in January. The father who pushed his special-needs son through the 10K, very closely resembling the Hoyts. The woman who finished a half marathon after receiving a lung transplant. The countless individuals who were on a weight loss journey and were covering this distance for the very first time. But then there were the finishers who broke into tears when they received their medals with their stories unspoken. The hugs, the high fives, the hand-holding. What an amazing time.
And if you’ve ever wondered what the last finishers look like at a race (as I have), this is it. Two total strangers, holding hands as they crossed the finish.
Most people (myself included), have at least two huge fears when entering a race: 1.) what if I don’t finish? and 2.) what if I finish last? Well, that last fear has evaporated for me. The last finishers (emphasis on the word finishers) are full of gratitude, strength, grit, and support.
No. Shame. In. That.
This is everything I love about running. Running represents the best parts of ourselves. The part that doesn’t give up and lifts others up. My heart is so full.