Twice in the last month, I had the great pleasure of being a part of various races in the Southeast; one as a participant (the Blue Ridge Relay), and one as a spectator (Ironman 70.3 Augusta). Both were very rewarding, and both for the same reason (amongst others): it will never cease to amaze me that, no matter how daunting the course or the weather, runners by and large are some of the very best, nicest, and most sincere people you will ever meet. This year, both events featured unseasonably hot temperatures; coupled with the fact that the make-up of the races was such that I would have expected (and maybe even excused) the very worst in folks as they struggled through countless miles in races that were meant to test your mettle and push you to the point of breaking, I found myself surprised and pleased at/by the smiles and comradery I witnessed in both events as people pushed both themselves and those they were competing against to get the most out of their tired bodies and minds.
Put to the test, we find the best. In each other and in ourselves. We often use funny or quick-witted sayings to let others know how proud we are of our sport ("our sport is your sport's punishment," etc.), yet we need only invite them to a race, or fun run, or even training session for them to see our passion, grit, and overwhelming sense of fellowship shining through. So leave the clever sayings for the t-shirt vendors, and simply let our actions speak louder than words ever could. Because we have ever reason in the world to rejoice in the sport we love and what it has helped us to become: people we should be honored to know and be.