Sunday, March 18, 2007

Runners Begetting Runners

The runners of Day 47 of the Endurance 50--50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days--the Delaware Marathon course in Wilmington. Dean Karnazes center, kneeling, Mikes Keene and Valliant far left, standing.

I ran 13.5 miles with Don Marvel today; a great experience. We chatted about running, life, sports, family, and road racing. Some rich conversation and a good way to sweat out some St. Patrick's Day indulgences.

Going over the Peachblossom Creek bridge, we talked about the lack of young people in organized running. Part of the reason could be kids specializing in sports at very young ages--from 5 years old, you can play soccer, baseball, lacrosse, you name it. By the time they get to high school, they are locked in; too late for cross country or track to have any appeal.

There may be hope though, both on the grassroots level and through the media coverage of the exploits of determined runners.

At St. Michaels Elementary School, Physical Education teacher Kevin Baum has organized an after school running club for the past two years. Elementary students meet and do 1-mile fun runs with Kevin. Tim Bamforth, a Physical Education teacher in Delaware has groups of students that will meet him in the morning for runs. And there are other creative teachers setting great examples for young runners.

Then there are runners who strive for unusual accomplishments; the kind that attract a media looking for examples of a positive human spirit in the face of Iraq, poverty, global warming, and baseball free agency. When a teacher runs across the country with his gear in a jogging stroller to keep a promise to his students, it matters. When Tim Twietmeyer finishes his 25th Western States 100 in under 24 hours or Neil Weygandt finishes his 40th consecutive Boston Marathon, it inspires. And when a runner runs 50 marathons, in 50 states, in 50 days, and invites 50 runners to run with him each day, the number of lives touched is extraordinary.

Who are the other running ambassadors? How else is the sport being spread?

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