A while back when commenting on my post, Five Favorite Race Memories, Sherry at Run To The Mountains said, “Awesome! Running provides so many great memories it is hard to narrow it down to just five! Some of my favourite memories are relatively minor interactions with other runners – words of encouragement, laughing about our predicament, etc – they always bring a smile to my face when I recall them!” Thank you, Sherry, you just gave me a great idea for a post!
Back before I began running races with friends, I often made race day friends… people I’d just happen meet before or during the race, run part of it with, and then never see again. Those were the days before social media, when it wasn’t easy to stay connected with other runners.
The first race day interaction I recall was meeting a lady from New York named Diane in the huge athletes’ tent while waiting for the 1998 Boston Marathon to begin. It was cold and damp outside and most of the runners stayed huddled in the tent waiting the two to three hours for the race to begin after getting dropped off in Hopkinton.
Diane and I just happened to select spots on the ground next to each other, and struck up a conversation. During our long wait, we had plenty of time to get to know each other, and we quickly discovered that our finish time goals for the race were the same. We started the race side-by-side and and ran the first seventeen miles together chatting along the way. I felt strong and pulled away, and finished about six minutes ahead of Diane. Interestingly, we both finished with the other person’s qualifying time!
I had trained extremely hard for that particular Steamtown Marathon, with the hopes of running a sub 3:30. My third race day interaction happened around mile 20 when I started running with a guy, pacing him and him pacing me. We hardly talked, but did acknowledge that we both wanted to run a sub 3:30 race. He got me up that last tough hill that never seemed to end. We crossed the finish line, and immediately embraced in a huge hug, both relieved for the race to be over and thrilled that we had broken 3:30.
My fourth race day interaction happened with a girl who I’d seen at many local marathons over the span of several years. She was easy to pick out because she was a very pretty girl wearing a lot of makeup – I’m talking going to the prom makeup. I’d see her, and if I’m being honest, I’d say that I judged her. But let me tell you, that girl beat me every time! It wasn’t until my very last Marine Corps Marathon that I actually talked to her. While standing in line for the porta potty before the race, we struck up a conversation, and she was so nice that it made me wish I’d gotten to know her years earlier when I first saw her at races.
These race day interactions make me smile when I think about them, and obviously they made an impact on me since I remember the details so well all these years later. I’d love to know where these people are today and if they’re still running.
- Do you interact with other runners who you don’t know when you’re at races?
- What are some of your race day interaction with strangers memories?
- Who raced this past weekend?