Photo Credit: Matt Alexander,
About a third of the way through my latest 10k race, a familiar blue-topped runner came up beside me for the third time. But rather than overtaking me, running out of steam and dropping back again, she decided to join my steady pace. Although I’ll never know her name or what she does for a living, we silently supported each other during the rest of the race, side-by-side tackling each mile.
A little further on, we passed a guy who had just begun to walk. “Come on”, I said, motioning for him to join our mini run club. Reluctantly, he began to trot again and easily matched our speed. I pointed to the closest landmark and suggested we aim for that, then the next one, then the next, before we were only a few kilometres away from the finish line and he’d not walked another step.
By the end, after another runner had joined our growing group of support, a wheelchair racer whizzed by declaring he expected PBs from us all. This request convinced me to break off from our team, speed up for the last kilometre and collect a half-decent time.
I arrived at the race alone, yet received and shared the same amount of support I’d get if running with friends. Without these similar-minded strangers, the race would’ve been a little lonely and a lot harder to complete.
And for that, runners, I love you.