This past week has been a tough one in this country. Rather than the election signaling the end to tensions and weariness with political back and forth in the media and among friends and family, I’m sure I’m not alone in having my social media flooded with arguments, despair, fear and hope. I’ve written before about the beauty of the starting line – how the differences between us seem overwritten (even if briefly) by the fact that we are all runners, united in a single joy and activity. It’s not just runners who can experience this. Anyone who has been on the sidelines watching a race knows that there is a lot of hope and joy to be witnessed in spectating a race.
5 Ways Spectating or Running a Race Can Renew Your Faith in Humanity
You’re seeing people from all walks of life uniting in one endeavor. Running or spectating a race, particularly a major big city race, you see runners from every religion, race, gender, sexuality, size, political viewpoint. You name an area of difference between humans and you will see them running by. United. Together. All runners. All heading to the finish line. That is the stuff that gives me chills.
Determination and commitment are amazing things to witness. The back of the pack runner who is battling to keep ahead of the cut off times. The spectators who stick around longer than anyone else to cheer on those runners who are struggling. Runners with disabilities or handicaps who have fought and trained harder than anyone realizes to be there competing. These are the people who are inspiring.
When you train for and run a race, you’re getting a first hand physical lesson in putting work into a goal. There are no shortcuts or easy ways out for making it through a race. It’s an inspiring feeling to know you have it within yourself to make sacrifices, work your butt off and achieve something you may not have known you could. And yes, this totally means you can look within yourself to restore your faith in humanity. If you find out you have it within you to put your mind to something, work for it, and achieve it, then you know you can do that in every facet of your life. Go after your dreams. Stand up to injustices. Fight for what you believe in. You’ve got this.
Those volunteers offering you water, fuel, encouragement and at the end of the race, a medal, food, assistance? Yes, they are volunteers. Their payment is to be involved in something big and inspiring and joyful. They are there to support the runners and make their experience better. Thank the volunteers at the next race you run – they’ve given up their own time just to be there for others.
Everyone who has run or spectated a race has a story of seeing a selfless or loving act. We’ve seen runners stopping to help someone who has fallen or is in distress. Had people offer food and water in sections of a race without aid stations. Runners who go out of their way to high five little kids just to see their faces light up. Spectators who cheer with all their heart and soul when they see someone who is struggling. We’ve all been high fived, or given a blanket or a medal or a bottle of water at a finish line by a volunteer who smiles at us and makes us feel like a rock star. I remember one guy in Central Park, not a racer or a volunteer, just someone who was always out running when a race was on, and he would keep up a steady, loud stream of cheers and chants and encouragement for the entire race, as he ran alongside or past the racers. He made everyone’s day, every time. It’s not always the grand gestures that resonate – sometimes it’s seeing people doing small things for others, spontaneously, that fill you with hope that people are overwhelmingly good.
I hope this list made you smile, or made you think about ways you’ve witnessed the good in people when you’ve been involved in a race, running or spectating. I’d love to hear your personal stories, or links to stories you’ve read that renewed your faith in humanity. Leave your links in the comments so we can all share the good!