“No other sport is as democratic as running.” ~Florence Griffith Joyner
Road races have the ability to unite runners more than any other event. The reason? Literally almost anyone can sign up for these types of races and share in the same experience.
Participants in road races share common goals. Runners want to put their training and will to the test, to give our best effort, and to finish strong. We all share the same course, begin at the same start line, and head to the same finish. We all get the same shirt and the same medal.
On race day, we fight up the same hills, deal with the same adverse weather conditions, and cover the same distance. During that time, we all get a chance to see the beauty and sights our courses have to offer. We run the same roads as celebrities, politicians, sports professionals and race winners. We can all share in the personal satisfaction of crossing the finish line.
People you would have never met otherwise line up next to you in the corrals, sharing encouragement and well-wishes. As a result, total strangers can become supporters. In the end, we congratulate each other on what we’ve individually achieved, knowing that our personal goals may be very different. And many of us become friends for life.
A Race and a Place for Everyone
One of my favorite quotes is from Dara Torres, who at age 41 earned a place on the U.S. Olympic team: “The water doesn’t know how old you are.”
Neither does the road.
The road doesn’t care about your age, weight, gender, ethnicity, or religious beliefs. It also doesn’t care about your job, the car you drive, the house you live in, where you went to college, or where you were born. And as more races offer a means for those living with disabilities to join us on the course, the barriers and limitations on what people can achieve continue to fall. On the road, we represent people from all backgrounds and all walks of life.
This is the beauty of road races. There is room for everyone with determination to come to the start line.
Road races offer you a place to be yourself and to prove yourself. The race challenges everyone, from the winner and the last finisher. If you have a bad day, there is a chance to recover, rebuild and redeem yourself at another event. Races remind us that if we do not succeed, there is an opportunity to try again.
Crossing the finish line can be a source of self-confidence and pride for all. Many turn to their memories of achieving their race goal in challenging times as a source of personal strength. It helps them remember the endurance and discipline they developed in their training, as well as the courage and willpower they had to see themselves through to the end.
Tomorrow, we could lose our jobs, our cars, or even our homes. But being a finisher is something that can never be taken from us. When we participate in races, we learn just how strong we really are, physically and mentally.
The sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction is there for anyone who wants to earn it and achieve it. The road is waiting for you.