I have completed a number of virtual runs (races where runners are not in the same place and may not be running at the same time) lately. As the atmosphere is basically that I do my usual runs, maybe a little extra, all the runners encourage each other via Facebook, and someone mails me the finisher’s medal, I didn’t see them as worthy of a blog post.
A few days in to the Green Beret Foundation Run for A Million, during the car ride home from a seminar in St. Louis, I saw this post on the Facebook group (all named removed for privacy reasons):
“So, I’m not sure if I should write this. But here goes: I planned to ruck a marathon with 50 lbs tomorrow, but I am sitting bedside as my Mother is dying. I can’t right now. I’m wondering if 26 people could walk an extra mile as I don’t want these miles to go undone. Maybe there will be time next weekend, but, I just don’t know. If so, I will ruck it then.”
I quickly commented “will ruck it as soon as I get home.” The other comments pretty much sum up the GRT community: perhaps a little rough around the edges, but will have your back when you need it.
“I am so sorry to hear about you Mother. I will do an extra mile. If others are unable, I can do the extra 26.2. Stay with your Mom.”
“Strength to you brother. You focus on your mother. We’ll focus on your miles.”
“Take care of your best girl. I’m in for an extra mile.”
“Is this covered? I have a couple operators here in bumfuck WV who I’m sure can take up any leftovers.”
“Any left over mileage I can cover it! I don’t care how much”
I got home, dumped my travel gear out of my ruck and loaded it with all 10 of my rucking bricks. I will be the first to say that I was tired as hell and had no desire to ruck anywhere, but it needed to be done. Turn on GPS tracking, half a mile down the road and back, drop the ruck and go to bed next to all the travel gear I just dumped.
I went to comment that my part was complete, and saw this:”Thank you all so very much. She passed away earlier this morning. Your actions today have meant a lot to me and my family.”
And the donated miles kept coming. Lots of us did a mile or two, a few more, up to one who rucked 31 miles. This response soon followed:
“I have to say, I am blown away. I had to turn off my 3 g because my Facebook notification kept beeping, all day.What you have done for me is simple. You gave me the strength to be there for my family. I was able to have a very hard talk with my Dad, and handle much of the days responsibilities. I was able to have a very difficult and private conversation with my Mother. I was able to pack up my Mother’s hospital room. I was able to meet with the cemetery staff and funeral director. I was able to be there for my wife. The sympathy you demonstrated by walking for me and my Mother was profound. I have to pay this forward. From the deepest place I know, thank you.”
I replied, “Humans are angels with a single wing. We only fly by embracing each other. I think I speak for all of us when I say the honor truly is ours.”
Miles and supportive comments kept pouring in:
“Yesterday a man posted asking if people could donate an extra mile or two for him because he needed to be with his family in an hour of need, was no longer going to be able to participate and didn’t want his miles to go un-run for the cause. Just a little over 24 hours later, people have donated 123.93 miles. Extra miles they didn’t have to run or ruck, but they did. And they did it to show their support for someone that they may have never even met. Amazing! I’m so proud to be a part of#runfor1m!”
“This was my thought process for me & my alter-ego that I wanted to share with the group:
Today is a recovery day/”so what” + I don’t have my running sneakers/”who cares” + I forgot my iPod/”get over it” all which resulted in me running my fastest splits in a long time and I was speechless when it was done at how well I felt physically, but dropping 5 miles in the bucket for Jason has left me feeling grateful to be involved in this event and surrounded by so many positive and inspiring folks. I think this is really what this event is all about”
“Each of you finished your run, or still have miles to complete. You are amazing. Many of you likely aren’t Green Berets, yet you are putting your heart and soul into this event. I don’t know a finer group of people. You raise money for an awesome foundation, yet find a moment to provide strength to someone in need. You don’t need to keep giving my family miles, you have given me and my family a lot of love and hard work, thank you. Give them to whomever you feel deserves it. I still need to find a way to properly thank each of you. You deserve it. If you still have miles to complete: when your feet hurt so bad, and you are losing your mind, take your strength from me. You helped me, I need to help you. Know that I am indebted to each of you. Thank you.”
The total of donated miles came to just shy of 200 miles, nearly two of the full 100.2 mile challenge. The man who had made the initial request rucked the last 6-7 miles to make it 200.4 miles in honor of his mother.
What impresses me most about this is how few of the people involved actually knew each other, beyond a name on a computer screen. But he called out for support and all of us answered. THIS is what we are all working toward.