Saturday, November 24, 2012

Running: Our Community at its Best

Come January 2013, Run4Roots participants will be running the Miami Half Marathon at the same time as youth in Cuba run a parallel race. This historical occasion will build a bridge and connect two communities who yearn to know each other and innovate together. As the reality of our counterparts on the island continues to change, this is more important than ever. 

Here is the story of Chris, who ran the Miami Half Marathon with us last year and will be hitting the pavement again next January. Check out his reason for running and step up to join her by registering here! It's time to hit the ground running for something YOU believe in. 

Running: Our Community at its Best
By Chris G.

The reasons I run for my roots are simple.

In 27 years sprinkled with moments like winning a football championship and speaking to a crowd of 5,000, I’ve lived some cool experiences.  Few, if any, compare to Run 4 Roots. 

A year ago, Run 4 Roots gave me an opportunity to honor my grandfather’s legacy (my sister and I raised money in his memory) while running the ING Miami Half Marathon. This was personally significant, but I didn’t expect to experience something more powerful too – the essence of my community.

Leading up the race I wasn’t exactly in run-13-miles shape. I’m not sure I had ever run anywhere near 10 miles! And worse, since I had barely trained, I had real doubts I could finish the race.  (If you’re wondering, yes training properly for a half-marathon is advisable.) As I ambled to the starting line in the pre-dawn darkness, the sea of people who were about to take the same journey comforted me.

The race was every bit as challenging as I imagined, but it exposed me to a side of my hometown I had never experienced.  It was pure, unbridled human spirit coming together to create the most potent and tangible feeling of community I can remember.  It was Miami, the United States, or even humanity, at its finest.

I chose to Run 4 Roots again this year because now I have a unique opportunity to share that face of my community with some (soon to be) friends from Cuba. If all works out, young people from Cuba will either be racing alongside me or figuratively tracing the same route in Cuba. Either way, I’m going to tell them all about the perfect strangers who wildly cheered me on last year.

I’ll share that it wasn’t just a couple points in the race, but throughout. And when I was ready to give up, a random smiling face would shout encouragement. Then it was my running mates pushing me to fight on.  Later it was the live bands providing a distraction down the home stretch of the race that kept me going.

The combination of overcoming a grueling challenge, overwhelming support from the community, and personal fulfillment in crossing the finish line combined to make it an incredible, uplifting experience.

It was a snapshot of what life and my community can have to offer.
Those are things I want Cubans to experience too. 

Register to run with us and start the year by making a tangible impact in the lives of youth just 90 miles from our shores! If you still need some convincing, check out photos from last year's race on our Facebook page.

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