Last Sunday, over 500 people got off their couches to participate in the Maine Marathon either running the marathon (26.3 miles), the half marathon or the marathon relay. For the sixth year I volunteered with the Scout troop to pass out water, blankets and medals to those who finished the race.
Over the years I have guarded and returned the bags the runners leave before they run, I have passed out water, blankets and this year I was honored to pass out medals.
I missed a few people, who I had hoped to see cross the finish line, but I did get to put medals on my sister’s relay team, a Windham resident and Jeff Peterson from Channel 13 as well as a bunch of deserving finishers with huge smiles and sometimes tears.
One woman clutched on to me in a celebratory hug when she crossed the finish. I saw teachers and friends all so excited to see me…or was it the finish line, we’ll never know.
These athletes train for months to get ready for this event. The energy that comes from accomplishing their goals is tremendous. At the finish line, the air is electric!
When I arrived at the finish line to start my volunteer shift the kids who were there, were quiet, holding medals out to the runners. Luckily I knew most of them and felt I could help them engage a bit more.
“These people have run 26.3 miles. Don’t make them lift their arms to put on their own medal. Offer to put it on.” I also showed them where the names were printed on the bibs so they could say, “Congratulations, Beth” as the runner got his or her medal. There was a bit more cheering for those who were completing their first marathon and the sense of teamwork grew at the finish line as we made sure that each medal had a blinking lighthouse light. We all worked together to make sure that the runners were honored as they crossed the line.
I’m not a runner and have never really enjoyed running. I don’t understand the “runner’s high” or why someone would take on the challenge of running to Yarmouth and back to Portland in a single day. Sometimes I think it would be an interesting challenge, but then I remember that I should leave running to those who truly love it.
Congratulations athletes. You are an inspiration to us all.