Two years ago today One Run For Boston was in full flight. Two days in and I had just about started to relax into the life of watching miracles happen before my eyes. Then day two happened and all I could see were tears.
It was early in the morning but the heat was already burning our pale British skin at 7am. Lindsey had managed to get a little lost within the foothills of California’s mountain range. Adam who was supporting her was on the phone to his Mum working out directions for Lindsey. At the end of the call, when Lindsey was on her way again, one of my favourite lines was exchanged between Adam and his mum. Adam’s mum, Laurel, was running later in the day and had been following the baton 24/7 on social media since the start. Adam recounted to us what she was saying to him.
“What’s that? You’re excited? Oh, you’re excited and sweaty”
Adam, in the mid day heat would take the baton from his mother, vomit on it, and pass it on to others who took it further into the bleak boiling desert of 29 Palms – a military training ground. But a lot more would come to pass before then…
Molly, a 58 year old school teacher, would take the baton from Lindsey and would carry it on possibly the toughest section of the relay. She’d chosen this section on purpose to inspire the children she taught. To show them what was humanly possible. She took her time to climb to the top of the plateaux hitting 2000ft of ascent. At the top a gaggle of Marines and their wives were waiting. The baton was already running late and the tension and anticipation was too much for all of us all as it fell behind further. We sat quietly trying to make chit chat but the whole time our eyes were on the horizon waiting for Molly. Then a figure becomes visible. Scared that it might be a mirage everyone sits quietly until it is clear that this runner is holding a white baton that had been named Miles the previous night!
As the baton changes hands tears tumble down faces. But the strongest of wives, Jen, pulls everyone together and the marines and wives set off together. Jen pushed hard knowing they had time to make up. By this point the temperatures were higher than I’d ever experience getting close to 50 degrees celsius. The breeze felt like an oven opening in my face. I had one t-shirt on with my arms tucked inside and another wrapped round my head like a eastern european grandmother.
As we passed the group 9 miles down the road there was only Jen left at the front – leading the charge with a smile on her face and spring in her step. Behind her were two marines desperately trying to keep up with her but looking heavy and thoroughly worn out by Jen’s pace.
From here Laurel took the baton and disappeared into the desert dust with her son by her side cheering her little legs as they consumed the asphalt.
At this point I had to stop and look back on the what had been achieved so far. A baton symbolising unity, strength, bravery, and respect had been carried well over 300miles through various different terrains and by hundreds of people. But the journey was still only just beginning. 3000 miles still lay out before us and some adventures that I couldn’t even imagine.
Two years on and this day still brings tears to my eyes. But it also puts strength in my heart that us humans can achieve remarkable things, what some would say impossible, just by putting one foot in front of the other and believing in ourselves and others.