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I signed up for the half-marathon at 6:15 p.m. the night before. As the smiling woman handed me my information bag, I actually realized I didn’t own a pair of running shoes. No worries.
While walking through the many booths set up at the health expo, I found the most beautiful running shoes at a booth loaded with all types of fancy sneakers. Not even trying them on, I purchased them for the next day.
Doubt sets in. I’m not sure if I can accomplish the half. Morning comes, I’m dressed, the sneakers feel great and I decided to bike to downtown. The weather is crisp and bright; people are setting up signs in their yards to cheer people on. Making it to The Commons, I locked my bike up on one of our classic C’s outside and ran upstairs to ask to change to the 5K. Yes, it was
8:48 a.m. at the time. But the ladies happily helped me get my number changed. Five minutes later I found myself at the back of a huge crowd waiting for the start at 9 a.m. I hadn’t come with anyone. “I’ll just walk and do my best,” I thought.
The race started, and everyone was off. The energy was so great that, really, it wasn’t a problem to run. I found a few friends along the way, and we all ran together. All the while we ran, people were smiling, talking, encouraging each other. Friends, families and people just out to get some exercise. As we neared the finish line I was so pumped up that a sprint seemed like the natural thing to do. Why not? Was I the fastest? Not even close. There were many people before me and many after. The crowd cheered for everyone. There were encouraging words everywhere. Staying for a while to watch friends come in on the half-marathon, it was touching to watch how the general population of the downtown was in this huge state of community. It was felt in the encouraging words of the people around me. You should have heard the crowd erupt when the firemen came running in with their full gear on and holding the American flag!
As I biked home (toward the airport), I purposely took roads that the marathon was on. Stopping to talk to a few officers along the way, thanking them for their involvement and congratulating them on a job well done. I cheered on my athletic trainer, Steve, as I passed him on Washington Street. I cheered on people I didn’t even know: “Good job! You’re almost there.” Passing Sweet Rose Bake House, there was a band playing for runners. All the while along the route, neighbors were out of their houses cheering people on and talking to one another.
As I reflected on this, it came to me: We talk about “community” and “civic-mindedness” a lot. But on this day, I really felt it. From the crowds cheering on the runners, to the people holding up signs in their yards and along the roads, to the volunteers handing out water and bananas, checking in gear, staffing the medical tents, closing the roads and doing countless behind-
the-scenes work, the bands entertaining the runners, and the runners encouraging each other.
There was this energy of the common goal that brought a togetherness in the masses of people. It brought people out of their homes and encouraged neighbors to talk, it encouraged people to get involved and volunteer, it encouraged people to run, it encouraged people to stick around downtown and hang out with each other.
Job well done everyone. Can’t wait for next year’s marathon!
Calie Amini and her husband relocated to Columbus two years ago. She is an artist and has enjoyed running her entire life. This letter was received Oct. 1.
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