Race #25 All For One and One For all
I arrived at the race just as the countdown began. Straight to the registration table. Less than a minute to put on my bib and cross the start line. All I saw in the distance, about a quarter mile ahead were a pair of hot pink socks belonging to one of the only other walkers in the race.
The goal was simple. Keep my eye on the hot pink socks. Close the gap. Hold my pace. Except the gap never closed. It didn’t get any larger, it just didn’t close. It takes me a few miles to warm up, so as usual, I began to catch up as we passed mile four. By mile five, after making good time on a couple inclines, we were together and chatting.
Cathy and Annette are veteran racers. Each has completed as least one marathon along with several other races. Annette is the big heavy, preparing for her next ultra-marathon. I was impressed by their steady walk. They never jogged. Never broke pace.
With my quickened pace in gear, I considered passing them and doing my solo thing. Instead, fortuitously, a nature call took me off stride and the gap returned. I caught up again within a mile and decided to stick around for the conversation.
Some races are about my time or my mood. This race was about being part of the larger race community.
Since we were the clean-up crew in a race of runners and joggers, each time we passed a group of officers at an intersection we’d let them know we were it and they were free to go. There was a “Thank you for your service,” from one, two or all of us each time.
A few of the officers got a kick out of the way we walked it in. We weren’t in a rush. We weren’t struggling, either. Just doing our thing, keeping our pace, walking our race. We noticed one motorcycle officer stayed behind us around mile eight, like an escort. Then a couple more joined in. We walked the last three miles with a full-on police escort.
When a car would assume the race was over and ignore the orange cones, heading in our direction, a motorcycle officer would pull in front of us and head them off. In one case, he had to exclaim “No” loudly and authoritatively several times while motioning a car to turn around. Once the car did so, he headed back our way with a wide grin, “I got your back, ladies.” It was super cute and very sweet. At times we took childlike pleasure in pretending we were super special walking streets cleared up traffic with up to three motorcycle cops there to keep us safe.
One of the things we racers love about half-marathons, marathons and so on is the camaraderie. It extends to the many volunteers, the safety personnel, officers and organizers. Everyone is there to make it a great experience. The community is as addictive as the sense of accomplishment each race brings.