The start of the 2011 Jungle Bell Run
I have been running on and off most my adult life. A big part of that has been "racing" in mostly small local events. I put the term racing in quotes on purpose, because I have never been a front runner and have only won an age-group award once and that was many years ago. I "race" for the same reason that most of the pack does, because I enjoy the camaraderie of other runners.
Recently I have found myself drifting away from the concept of racing; not because I no longer enjoy the camaraderie of other runners, but simply because for the first time in my life - I am simply enjoying the basic process of running, especially on trails. It has become for me, as I am sure it is to many of you, my daily medicine to deal with the insanity of modern day life. To leave the madness behind for an hour or so and move through the woods in the simplest way possible, is for me better than any drug the marketing experts keep trying to convince me I need.
That being said, I attended a race this Saturday and I did something for the first time - I volunteered. I did this mostly because I really believe in the mission of Spartanburg Area Conservancy (SPACE), the non-profit benefiting from the event, and the fact that the race was being run on a trail I use frequently that is maintained by SPACE. Seeing a race from this different perspective was oddly inspirational for me to start to think about "racing" again; but mostly I was humbled to think of the thousands of people throughout the years that have given of their time so I could pursue my goals. So let me officially say "Thank You" to the unsung heroes of our sport, the volunteers. I think all my fellow runners would agree with me when I say - we couldn't do it without you!