Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Running for a Cause

This past Sunday was the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco. Women (and men) of all ages, all sizes, and all fitness levels converged on this beautiful City for a half or full marathon to benefit blood cancer research. The Team in Training members, who trained for months before the event, and were required to raise a significant amount of money to participate, numbered in the thousands. Many participants were survivors, or who were running to support or memorialize a loved one.

The sheer dedication of these women and men to their cause was awe-inspiring. For some, their goal was to complete the race for the first time, knowing that they have reached a milestone they previously thought impossible. For others, their participation was personal, out of love and support for friends and family that are, or have been, affected by a blood cancer. For many, the jaunt across the finish line is accompanied by overwhelming emotion, often resulting in a complete physical collapse. Even so, for all, this is powerful and emotionally charged event.

Working at the first aid station at mile 9, I watched a variety of people, mostly women, walk, run and shuffle by in their quest to complete the half or full marathon. Our station, staffed by a medical team of four, treated 90 patients in the space of three hours. Of those that we treated, I felt so powerfully that unwavering desire to complete the race no matter how their bodies held up. One particular runner was a woman that will stick in my mind for a long time.

She had fallen, twice, in the 9 miles before reaching us. Just being klutzy, she said. The contusion on the side of her face was huge, swollen to the size of half a golf ball. One of the knuckles on her left hand was conspicuously out of place; swollen, bruised, and with little mobility. Our team's doctor advised her to go for x-rays, and offered to call her an ambulance to transport her out of the course and to the hospital.

"No thank you," she said, "I am going to finish this race no matter what. I'll get it checked out when I'm done."

With that, and her signature on our release form, she jogged off towards the finish line.

Nothing could curb her fierce dedication toward completing her goal. Not even a broken hand.

I have no doubt she made it.


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