I want to use this Thursday Thanks to express my gratitude to several runners at the Pensacola Half Marathon for their kindness and encouragement to other runners.
In particular, there was one runner who stood out for his helpfulness. I never got his name, but he was wearing an orange t-shirt, so we'll call him Mr. Orange.
At mile 4, I pulled off the course to stop and stretch my legs (a preventative measure to ensure the hip wouldn't freak out on me). I only paused for 20 seconds or so. Then I jumped back into the pack right next to Mr. Orange.
He asked: "Are you OK?"
I have to admit, I was more than a little surprised that anyone would notice or care. I replied: "Oh! Yes. I'm fine. Thanks for asking!" And I continued on my way, pleased that someone showed concern, but still not thinking much of it.
At the next bend in the road, Mr. Orange shouted to other runners "Car on the right!" every time a car passed on the not-closed course.
A few miles later, another runner stopped, clutching his side in obvious pain. Mr. Orange paused to ensure that runner was ok.
Over the course of the run, Mr. Orange repeated this sort of behavior every time someone needed it. Because we ran such similar paces, we chatted for awhile. When I mentioned that I thought it was great that he looked out for other runners, he chalked it up to his police officer instinct. Hmm... maybe. But regardless of the reason, he made my day.
And the best part of this story, for me, is that Mr. Orange was not alone.
Over the miles, I noticed plenty of runners lending helping hands to other runners. Going up one of the steep little hills, a gentleman was patting strangers on the back encouraging them to "keep going" and "you can do this!"
In the last two miles of the race, as people were hitting their own personal walls, one guy would wave his hand in a c'mon-let's-get-going gesture, and encourage people not to stop. I'm sure he was hurting, too, but he took the time and energy to help others along.
Maybe it has been too long since I've run a longer-distance race, but I don't recall ever witnessing so much runner-to-runner support before. Seeing all those helping hands was a wonderful experience.
Whoever said running is an individual sport? Sometimes it is... but sometimes it's a group effort.
Have you ever gotten a helping hand from another runner at a race?
Have you ever lent a helping hand? Don't be bashful: Please tell your story!