Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Running through walls

GUEST POST: Marathon Junkie Chuck Engle has run more than 350 marathons - just passing his 300th sub-3 hour marathon this past spring.  Chuck was a special guest of the Hartford Marathon Foundation on Saturday running to raise $1 for every marathoner he passed on race day.  Chuck came in 38th, passing well over 2,000 marathoners from his start position of dead last to raise money for Camp Rising Sun. Hear his race day story in his own words:

Running for Camp Rising Sun this past weekend in the NU Hartford Marathon was absolutely one of the best feelings I have ever had while taking part in a marathon. To start last with about 15,000 half-marathon and marathon runners in front of me was a new challenge. I have been very fortunate to start at the front, if not on the line, of nearly every marathon I have ever raced. I was ill-prepared for the difference in speed that I had with the majority of the half-marathon runners. 

With about a 9 minute delay from the official starting time I embarked on a race that would let me face a different kind of wall. The bell curve of runners created a unique situation as I quickly romped past the thin line of walkers only to slam into the hoard of joggers and walkers that most would call mid-packers. Miles of runners stretched across the rain-soaked city streets. 

I watched my mile splits rise to 8 and 9 minutes during the first several miles as I weaved to the left and right through a kaleidoscope of runners. The drenching rain coupled with meandering runners made quick stops and fast turns a treacherous decision. The challenge of navigating up through the field should have been frustrating for this usual front runner. However the cheers from fans and friends for the charity propelled me to continue with my oft-times peregrinating jaunt. 

With each mile the crowd thinned. Despite my new tangential approach to the course, it became more difficult in the later miles to catch and pass increasingly faster runners. The early weaving had begun to take its toll on my legs. The weather seemed unrelenting and the crowds thinned during the most critical miles. 

I was now mostly alone to battle the storm inside and out. The wall of runners and now the wall of pain began to envelope my fog-filled skull. It was at this very moment near mile 22 that I could only think that the exact opposite should happen for children with cancer. They should be surrounded with love through their storms. That thought alone gave so much more purpose to pushing past every runner that I could. My wall was easily conquered as each runner was one more donation to the camp. 

Camp Rising Sun is a place where children in active treatment for cancer or those in remission are surrounded by love and fun in a judgement free environment. The only cost to them is that they were stricken with disease and are in a race that they did not voluntarily choose to enter. As that thought pounded through my head with each of the passing miles I found myself closing in on the finish line. The crowds grew and thunderous cheers erupted as the announcer spoke to the crowd about the purpose of my 26.2 mile journey. I vaulted down the final mile passing 6 or 7 more runners. My journey was over but the journey for so many of the children at Camp Rising Sun is only beginning. 

It is my hope that each of the children of Camp Rising Sun will have the opportunity to feel the support and love that I felt as I successfully completed my race.  If you have ever run a race you've seen volunteers and throngs of people along your journey. Most of them are there supporting you even though you've never met. If you have a moment, join the crowd that helps surround and support these children. Help them run their race with a ton of cheering fans and well deserved support. http://www.camprisingsun.com/

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