It was 11:00 on a Saturday afternoon, and it was pouring. We were in my mom’s hometown of Marathon, Iowa and today was the day of the famous “Marathon to Marathon.” As the name suggests, it is a harsh race of 26.2 miles from the city of Storm Lake to the sweet little town of Marathon.
We were there with some family friends to see the race and maybe sell a few copies of my mom’s book, Love Idol. It was a little over midway through the race when it started sprinkling. And then that little sprinkle turned into a downpour like nothing else, with horrible lightning and a bit of hail. I could hardly walk around out there, much less fathom how someone could run a marathon in that weather. We headed inside as a car went out to optionally pick up the forty-something people still running out there.
The car came back empty.
Not a single person wanted to quit, even in the worst conditions.
I guess they had worked too hard and trained too much to give up now.
Not to mention, my grandpa who I love so much, who broke his foot while we were in Mexico, stood right by the finish line with a boot on his foot under a little tarp getting soaked and refused to leave until every person crossed the line.
He feels it is important that the person hears their name when they cross the line. Even if he is the only one there, and all the crowds have long since left, he wants to tell them, “Well done!”
There is a chapter in my mom’s book about this topic. About how he wants them to hear their name. She compares it to when we cross the finish line of our life, and how God is there to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (And though she wrote it much more eloquently than I could have, it is still an amazing thing to think about.)
But that’s not all. Just the fact that these runners kept running inspires me also. Sometimes, in our life, things get tough. Real tough. But it is the strength to keep running that makes us who we are.
I just wish I could have the courage to say I would have kept running. And I’m still pondering what my response would have been. Because I don’t really know what it’s like for things to be real tough for me. I live in a home full of love and pantries stocked with all I can eat. I live in a sheltered community where 99% of the residents are Christian. I’ve been to Haiti and seen the poverty, but have I ever experienced the true pain of a 4-day empty stomach- of watching my family die and leave me- of sleeping and living in the dirt and on the streets? No.
But I hope and pray to God that he will give me the strength to keep running in the times where it gets tough.