I have been running for about 5 years. Running is my escape from the daily demands of being a wife and a mother. It allows me to connect my mind and body and allows me to connect with my surroundings. Running has helped me trudge through these uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite my love for the sport and the countless races I have run, I have never run a full marathon. 26.2 miles is a LONG time to run and the distance has always been intimidating. Last year, I decided that 2020 was going to be my year for running and I was going to tackle the races that have scared me for so long! I registered for Grandma’s Marathon, my very first full marathon to be completed in June of 2020.
Grandma’s marathon has been around since 1977. The race draws in over 18,000 runners from across the world. Last year, 46 countries were represented and runners from all 50 states were present. The event weekend consists of multiple races and events which appeal to everyone, not just runners! Needless to say, the race is a staple event for the city of Duluth.
Unfortunately, due to the uncertain times we are in, the race was cancelled for this year. To say I am devastated would be an understatement. For the most part, friends have been extremely supportive and have reached out to me to express their sympathy. They know how much effort I have put into training. However, I had one person make the comment about it being “just a race”.
Now, wait just a hot minute! This was not JUST a race for me. Crossing that finish line was going to be a representation of my dedication to myself. Crossing that finish line was going to be an affirmation of what my body is capable of. While it may not seem like a huge life event to many, crossing the finish line of my first full marathon will forever be engrained in my life.
Not only is the cancellation upsetting for the obvious reason of missing out on event I (and many others) have been training for, but it was an eye-opening moment for me in another way. Social distancing practices may still be strongly in effect in another 3 months.
It Goes Deeper
Being an extrovert, I have struggled with the lack of adult interaction. Not being able to run with the people who inspire me the most is heartbreaking. If you are a runner, you know what I am talking about. You bond with people in a completely different way when you are pushing your body. If you want to see some amazing acts of kindness between athletes, go to YouTube watch help finish marathon videos. *Disclaimer* You might cry! I always do! To think that it may be more than 3 months before I can fearlessly accompany my fellow runners takes my breath away, and not for a good reason.
While I understand and respect the reasons behind cancelling the race, it doesn’t make the sting of reading that cancellation email any easier. Race officials are kind enough to offer runners a 20% discount off of their 2021 race registration as well as offering an opportunity to complete the race virtually. Completing the race virtually would give runners the opportunity to complete the race safely on their own accord, upload their finish times to their website, and still receive their finisher shirt and medal. I am personally having to dig deep into my soul to decide if I will complete the virtual option. It will take a new type of dedication to run along the quiet streets without the massive amount of love offered from strangers to keep my legs moving forward.
If you were competing in any of the Grandma’s Marathon events, or any race around the world, and it was cancelled, I see you. Your training wasn’t for nothing and I hope you keep running strong. May the wind always be at your back and the sun on your face!