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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sharing Our Sport - Turkey Style

This Thursday, I'll be running the Turkey Trot in Abilene, Texas. We'll be there visiting family for Thanksgiving. What better way to get out of the house and avoid cooking than to run in a race. Seriously, who could deny you? It is all in the name of "exercise" and "exercise" is good...even those who don't do it acknowledge this fact.

This natural progression of thoughts led me elsewhere though. The "Turkey Trot" brings out a lot of casual runners and a many non-runners. Whether it is to be with family, challenge a sibling or to burn a few calories to justify the gluttony ahead, thousands of people will participate in a race that they otherwise would never consider.

These casual runners deserve to be greeted with a warm smile. Be friendly. Wish them well. Point them to the porta-potty or registration table. Let's do our best to show them what a great community we have crafted. While some might say the sport is getting overcrowded (noted by the quick sell-outs of some of the premier running events), I, like most, believe that continued growth is simply wonderful.

Maybe the most important thing we can do is to pray for our fellow runners on Thursday and beyond. This is important. Something simple is just fine. Maybe start by remembering to pray for a safe race just before the gun goes off. Heck, I don't know...pick your spot; whatever is comfortable for you.

Ten years ago at a Turkey Trot, I ran up on a guy who was in cardiac arrest. Fellow runners surrounded him while the paramedics labored to save the man's life. He was less than a quarter of a mile from the finish. I don't know whether he was a serious runner or one of the casual participants. It doesn't matter because the reality is that any of us could end up there.

Thankfully, he recovered. However, the image haunted me for some time. I felt for his family. Talk about disrupting the annual family fest. On Thursday, when their family has the obligatory round robin dialogue of "what are you thankful for this year?", I'm guessing the answers are a bit different than most. The words might be similar...I'm just guessing they really mean it.

So, please pray. Prayer is a powerful thing for many reasons and in many ways. Your fellow runners deserve your well wishes and your prayers.

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace.