To all the race volunteers—thank you for the encouragement when I wanted to give up. Thank you for the screams, the cowbells and for making those witty signs that made me laugh when I didn’t think laughing was possible.
Thank you for filling my water bottles and the hundreds of bottles before and after me. Thank you for taking those sticky gel wrappers out of my vest pockets and tossing them in the trash.
Thank you for staying up all night in the cold, cooking quesadillas and keeping the fire going. Thank you for baking in the hot sun while filling my ice bandana. Thank you for spending your weekend helping me—a runner, a stranger.
I tried to say thank you at all the aid stations and when I passed by as you cheered me on. But I know there were times when I was too caught up in my race and forgot to say it, or I didn’t say it loud enough. I’m sorry for that and I’d like to take the opportunity to say it now. To all the volunteers, crews, spectators, families and everyone else who helped my fellow runners and I cross a finish line this year… thank you!
This was a strange year, to say the least. In part, it was a celebration that races were happening again. But it was also a year filled with unknowns and anxiety. Things looked and felt different. But you helped us get back out running. You gave us the confidence to race again and kept us going when we didn’t think we could. You provided fuel more powerful than any gel or electrolyte drink.
I was blessed to run several amazing races this year. My best memories from those races, the ones I will always remember and cherish, were from all the people I encountered. The electricity I witnessed was truly incredible and you helped many dreams become a reality.
Running is very much an individual sport. We don’t have teammates to pass the ball to, or someone to sub in if we need a breather. But no runner can achieve their goals without the help of others. All of us have a loved one, mentor, coach or friend who helped us get to the starting line. And we have all experienced the generosity and kindness of volunteers who helped us get to the finish line.
I was moved by Japanese ultrarunner Terumichi Morishita who ran 80 yards (333.34 miles) at Big’s Backyard Ultra last week. Despite what must have been tremendous suffering, full scale exhaustion and ultimately disappointment after he fell and missed the 81st yard cutoff by only 30 seconds, it’s reported he still managed to say “thank you” each time he rolled through.
It is a great reminder that no matter how difficult a run or race day is going, we can always find the energy to muster up those two simple, but powerful words: thank you.