I could stand at the finish line of a race all day.
Watching the raw and uninhibited emotion pour off of people as they drive hard towards and cross that line… There is nothing much like it in the world.
You just know that every person finishing that race has fought their own battle to get to that point and who knows; maybe their life has now changed forever.
Running, distance running in particular is such a simple yet potentially transformative activity to participate in. It contains so many of the key ingredients for a rewarding experience, such as overcoming personal preconceived limitations, obvious benefits to health and wellbeing, the opportunity to clear the mind of clutter and be focused, striving toward a common goal with your fellow man and a sense of accomplishment that has been earned 100% by you.
From a humanistic point of view, there are very few activities or sports that we participate in where if a competitor was to fall or even struggle, their fellow competitors will help or encourage them to continue on.
We’ve all heard about times when people, who have never met before, have struck up a friendship during a run and one person has completely changed the way they ran their race so that they could help the other person finish stronger. With the danger of sounding a little over dramatic, I think distance running is one of the most beautiful things in the world. Where else will you see thousands of people, with every body shape and level of fitness imaginable, show up to a start line in the semi dark, in the rain, wearing very little, smiling the whole time, jumping with excitement to run themselves to exhaustion, side by side in the same direction, each encouraging the other and never, ever will you hear a single person boo another runner.
The crowds too are something very special at distance races. While most of the people watching will never know what it is like to be undertaking such a task, they somehow innately know that what they are seeing is something remarkable. They know that what it takes to simply be at that start line and to have the will and the internal drive to be a part of it is to be commended and praised.
That finish line really is the canvas upon which we see the beauty of the human spirit painted with the most honest of brush strokes. If you ever start to lose hope or faith in humanity, if you ever need to be reminded of what we are capable of when life requires our best, just stand at that finish line and watch.