Kim Cowart: Reasons to Run: The kindness of runners

Published: Wednesday, June 29 2011 8:00 a.m. MDT

Finally, runners are simply selfless. While my husband waited for me at the Boston Marathon finish line, he witnessed an incredible act of charity from one runner to another. Two runners were about 300 meters away from the finish line when one of them simply fell to the ground. His body had given out. Both athletes had run hard, but for one of them, the effort was simply too great. The finish line clock was still under three hours, a swift time by any runner’s standards.

Putting aside the chance for a PR, the able runner stopped, threw the other runner’s arm around his shoulder and literally carried the man to the finish line. No one asked him to do this. There were plenty of medical personnel around to help, but this runner knew what it meant to cross the finish line. They were so close. Rather than leave his fellow runner in the field, without hesitation he helped this man achieve his dream. My husband says the crowds went crazy and it was an emotional scene to witness.

But it’s not an unusual scene. I’ve said this before, but our sport is special. There is not a loser among us. We may compete against each other, but we do so with good spirits. We cheer on even our biggest rivals. We revel in each others’ successes and we empathize with each others’ lows. We push each other forward, and we pick each other up.

Running is a community filled with kindness. Maybe it’s the hours of exertion that makes our hearts grow, not just stronger but bigger. Maybe it’s the long, contemplative miles that clear the fog of selfishness from our minds. Maybe it’s the distant stretches of solitude that bring peace to our souls. Maybe it’s the moments of darkness when we’re at our lowest that help us recognize the deep valleys others traverse and make us want to help.

Whatever the reason, we recognize that this journey, while we may start out alone, is one we all undertake together. Whether it’s a race for the finish or a race for the cure, runners are one group you can count on to see it through to the end.

Kim Cowart is a wife, mom, 24-Hour Fitness instructor and marathoner who hopes she is working on becoming more charitable at home by finally sharing her S'Mores ice cream.

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