Monday, June 15, 2009
This past weekend was a fun learning experience. I've heard about marathon races before, but I've never witnessed them in person until now. It started with my husband telling me that a friend of his from work was planning on running in a marathon race now held in Garden City, around the famed Bear Lake. Kennon thought it would be fun to go and cheer him on. Click here for more information regarding the annual Bear Lake Marathon. This marathon offers 3 races: the 10 K which is a little over six miles, the half marathon, which is 13 miles, and the regular marathon which is approximately 26 miles. This marathon race started last year with about 350 runners. This year that number doubled as over 700 runners took part.
I learned that a new friend of mine, Jody Shelley, was also running in this marathon, as was her husband, Doran, and their son-in-law, Jason.
As time went on, I further discovered that my cousin's daughter and son-in-law were running in this marathon race as well. And on the day of the race, I found out that three of my former Mia Maids were running in it together. All three are married and mommys now, which makes me feel slightly old, but c'est la vie. They were Mia Maids during my first go-around in the YW's organization in our ward. Now I'm working with all of their baby sisters. =D
Anyway . . . when we learned that Jody and Doran and their family would be camping in Garden City, and our original plans to go fishing and camping at Palisades fell through, we decided to camp in Garden City over the the weekend. Not only would this give us a chance to cheer everyone on during the marathon, but it also gave us a chance to meet the Shelleys in person.
Until this past weekend, Jody and I had only been in touch through our blogs and e-mailings.
It was wonderful meeting the Shelley clan in person and getting better acquainted. They are becoming treasured family friends and we're looking forward to future camping adventures.
We ate dinner together at a local pizzeria Friday night, and then bonded further by singing silly camp songs later on in camp. Doran plays a mean guitar, and since I happened to bring mine along, he was able to share his talents. We tried to get Jody to play us a ditty, but she bowed out. Maybe next time, eh?! ;) We sang through several songs together, then called it a night since we all had to be up early the next morning.
The Shelleys stayed at the KOA in Garden City. We had made reservations at a nearby campground called: Traveland. It wasn't as crowded and it is a wonderful facility. If any of you are thinking of camping in this area in the near future, I heartily recommend Traveland. (No, I'm not doing a commercial, I was just very impressed with this campground. True, there aren't very many trees, but it is tidy, and it offers full hook-ups for a reasonable rate in comparison to other campgrounds I could mention.)
The next morning dawned nice and rainy. =D Big surprise. But it did keep things cool for the runners. Kennon had decided to volunteer to help with the marathon since they were short-handed, and I decided to join him.
So while Kennon helped direct traffic to keep the runners from being splattered on the road as they approached the finish line, I did my best to remind the runners to show their numbers. For them to receive credit for the race, their assigned number had to be clearly displayed as they ran toward the finish line. It was raining, so a lot of the runners had placed jackets over this vital information. Someone needed to remind them to show their numbers, and I was asked to tackle this task. The challenge was to get their attention. Most of them were listening to music, tuning out everything around them. Good times! I figured out a sort of sign language to get my point across. There were a few that got past me without showing their number, but I tried. And yes, I looked like a drowned rat by the time the race was over. =D
Since I was a little bit busy as the racers came running through, I didn't get as many pictures of the runners as I would have liked. (Sorry about that, Jody!) I did get a shot of those three former Mia Maids of mine. Tammy, Julie, and Tricia ran in the 10-K and made really good time as they cheered each other on:
And I managed to snap a photo of RaKae Roberts Harris as her mother, my wonderful cousin, RaNae, cheered her on. RaKae had survived running in the 1\2 marathon---13 miles. Wow!!! And this despite a knee that was causing her grief. I was so impressed by her determination.
That was something I saw over and over again---people pushing themselves beyond normal endurance to complete this marathon. People of all ages, shapes, and sizes were giving this race everything they had. Most weren't running to beat the other runners, they were merely trying to complete the race as best they could. For them it was a victory to run across that finish line, no matter what their time happened to be. It filled their hearts with joy to know they had made it.
I saw tears coursing down their faces---I heard those who had already crossed the finish line, cheering for the runners who were still making their way forward. I felt like crying myself when I witnessed one runner struggling with everything he had to make those final few feet to the finish line. He was ready to give up, until one of the runners who had already completed the marathon, jogged by the side of this young man, encouraging him forward.
As this all took place, I found myself thinking about our earthly lives. We're all running in a mortal marathon. Some of us are only here in this human race (pun intended) for a short time. But those brief moments are just as precious, and just as important, as the races that go on for what seems like forever. It's important to remember that we're not here to compete with anyone else; we're here to improve ourselves, to grow and learn as best we can. It's important to cheer those on around us, to encourage others along the way. And we need to remember during those darkest hours, when we're ready to give up, we're not in this race alone. Those who have gone on before are cheering us on, running unseen at our sides, urging us to continue. Only after we've crossed that finish line, will we realize just how many people were cheering us forward. Then we will comprehend how much we've gained, and understand that the race was worth every pain we endured along the way.