I Couldn’t Help It

Joy.  100% pure joy.  That is the only way I know how to describe it.  I was about 7 miles into my 13.1-mile trek of the Wilmington Half Marathon and my senses were nearly overwhelmed as I cruised around the perimeter of Greenfield Lake.  The crisp, cool air on my skin, the endearing encouragement of volunteers, and the hit of adrenaline as it pulsed through my veins.  “Man, I have missed this!” I thought. 

Just then I made eye contact with a runner heading in the opposite direction, moving towards the turnaround point I had just come from.  His face looked puzzled as he studied me.  Then he smiled, and his smile suddenly turned into a laugh.  It was only then that I realized I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat as I ran, looking like a greedy kid in a candy shop, and he must have found the sight amusing.  I couldn’t help it.  Like I said, 100% pure joy. 

The Return of Racing

I wasn’t here to race.  Just to run.  A friend of mine had injured himself only days before the event and when he offered to transfer his bib, I gladly accepted.  My training plan called for an easy 20 miles so after running an early 7 before the start line, I was cruising casually along the course.  And it was perfect.  As we all know, 2020 was a tough year for running.  For most of us, it meant canceled races, extreme uncertainty, and months of training seemingly gone to waste.  Some events managed to march on, adapting as best they could.  But most of the major races, especially road races, fell victim to our new COVID-19 reality. 

Yet here I was, running through the streets of downtown Wilmington.  The energy was euphoric.  I soaked in the familiar sights and sounds as runners, beginners and elites alike, pushed themselves to their limits, taking on the impossible.  The community was rallied behind them, coming together in force to pull this thing off.  And while the masks and staggered starts still hinted at the impact of COVID, this was different.  It felt like victory.  Racing has returned.  And it is a glorious thing!

A Major Win

It is these kinds of events where people find out what they are made of.  Like Anne Marie Pierce running in honor of recently departed father to finish 26.2 miles in 2:45:11…a blistering pace of 6:17 per mile.  Or Darryl Langley giving it everything he had to complete the full marathon with the support of his coaches and friends.  He later wrote, “By far, this was the toughest thing I have ever done both physically and mentally.”  Such moments to be proud of!  And I was able to witness these incredible individuals on the course. 

That is the magic of events.  They are a breeding ground for personal growth and a stage for the rest of us to witness what is possible.  And this event is one I will never forget.  A huge triumph over the fear and doubt that has plagued us all over the past year.  A sense of normalcy.  Finally. 

A Bright Future

If you were at the Wilmington Marathon, either as runner, volunteer or spectator, I hope you relate to my sentiments.  And if you were not, I hope you are encouraged through my account.  We still have a road ahead of us.  But I believe a bright future awaits.  I have so much gratitude for the tireless work that has come from the teams at Without Limits, Go Time, and many others to serve this sport that we love so much.  Running is something we can all do on our own, but there is magic when we are able to do it together.  So, lace up those shoes, get out and hit the roads or trails, and I look forward to sharing a course with you soon.

I Would Love To Hear From You!

Have questions or a recent event story that you would like to share?  I would love to hear from you!

Hit me up on Instagram at @Go_Be_Awesome or send an email to theultrarunningguys@gmail.com. Also be sure to check out theultrarunningguys.com for more content!