Sunday, October 6, 2013

A community effort

As we've covered before, a marathon finish line is one of my very favorite places.

Of course, any meaning is created entirely by the people who make it happen - without it, a finish line is just spray paint on a road, right? Every year I volunteer at the Twin Cities Marathon, I marvel more at all the people it takes to make this finish line a special place: the runners who push themselves to take on the challenge and the spectators, families, friends, staff and volunteers who support them along the way.

Today I felt so grateful to spend the day with such dedicated volunteers, and I felt fortunate to see so many runners finish the 10 Mile and marathon. (Get this: a full one-third of the runners were crossing their first marathon finish line!)

And this year, more than ever before, the spectators were in my heart. Today, around 300,000 spectators zigzagged around the Twin Cities, cheered in their yards, and rooted for their friends and family. At one point late in the morning, in steady drizzle, I looked back over my shoulder and really took in the sight of all the people waiting to catch one peek of a loved one crossing the finish line.

See the sign way on the edge of the photo?

That's a big handmade sign, complete with hearts and exclamation points, held up a few rows back: "YOU DID IT MATT!!!" I loved it.

And for a finish area with thousands of spectators meeting up with runners, you'd be surprised by how many spectators and runners actually see each other right at the finish line. Sometimes the spectators would cheer a runner's name like crazy, and the marathon finisher would hoot and holler right back. Sometimes, a spectator and a runner would just beam at each other, a quiet moment in a big, loud crowd.

A marathon finish is a community effort. It was a wonderful day.

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