If this picture were to stand alone by itself I have no idea what the caption would read to accompany it. For a photographer to see 3 smiling runners coming up the course towards you is a golden opportunity. But as a fan of the race, there is a significance to this particular moment for me that just a couple of words cannot express.
It may be my age, my gender, and my own background as a runner but I am truly inspired by this scene as it played out in front of me this morning.
Just in my lifetime women could not run the Boston Marathon or was there any long races for them in the Olympic games. For 13 years this race saw just one exceptional woman running in it, and now there are 3 remarkable female athletes. Who between them, as of 36 days of running, have completed 6542 miles.
In the great roulette that is the race there are moments, when despite whatever speed you are running you will most certainly have every runner in the race on your shoulder at least for a moment. If you are running at about the same speed it might not happen very often at all, or it could go on for laps and laps.
Or in this case the 3 girls, at least for this stretch have lined up perfectly. At the same time they are celebrating what they are doing, who they are, and most definitely what this experience is enabling each to become within. It was their choice at this moment to truly share the road and the fellowship of the race, and maybe by noticing that there was a camera in front of them, share it with the world.
The truth about the statistics is that these 3 girls are not that far apart when it comes to mileage and as of this morning out of the 14 runners they are in 6th, 7th, and 8th place. What I enjoyed about seeing them run like this was just how happy they all are.
If there is any secret to success to achieving your best here in this the most difficult sporting event in the world then being happy has to be one of the simplest remedies. Not just to ease the hard times but also to ensure that each step takes you that much closer to the higher goal beyond. Where self transcendence is not reached by tears and pain alone but by the precious gift of a true heart’s cry and a soul’s divine smile.
One of the pioneers of Women’s sports was Fanny Blankers-Koen. A Dutch runner who despite being 30 years old and a mother as well, wanted to compete in the Olympic games in London in 1948. It was in 1938 that she set her first world record, with a time of 11 seconds in the 100 meters. Because of the war she thus missed 2 opportunities to compete in the Olympics. So her wish to compete in 1948 was a dream come true.
Of her excellence in competition and how it inspired so many, she once said: “But times were harsh and people were glad of the opportunity to celebrate anything. It made me proud to know I have been able to bring joy into peoples lives.”
Allison Roe, Allison!
O lightning wonder-speed,
O soaring energy-light!
You are your dauntless soul.
In you, a fount of delight.
New York sings Auckland’s Victory-Song.
O champion of champions,
New Zealand’s thunder-gong!
[Allison Roe of New Zealand was the 1981 winner of the Boston and New York City Marathons. In the NYC Marathon, she set a new world record of 2:25:29.]