On the 15th April 2013 I was sitting in my kitchen in Devon, England after a run around the town of Totnes with a friend, Kate, listening to the radio. Suddenly the vibe on the radio changes and we hear there’s been a bombing at the Boston Marathon.
A bomb at the end of a running race. When the participants should have been throwing their hands in the air to celebrate the last few metres they are thrown in the air by a force of evil. 3 people died that day and a policeman died later in the man hunt that follow.
Running has been the one consistent thing in my life. Running has been my meditation, it’s been my release, and my family. My parents are both avid runners and that passed to us three children. As a two year old I used to pretend I was running hills as my Dad did repeat after repeat. The whole family even ran the London Marathon together one year. I’d cheered them at various international marathons and they’d done the same for me. This bomb could so easily have involved my parents, my friends or me. This bombing felt like an attack on my family.
I looked at Kate and we said “We have to do something about this.”
Within 7 weeks we were setting off from LA having organised a running relay that crossed the whole of America – from LA to Boston – running 24hrs a day continuously come rain or shine. 3300 miles. We’d split that route into 10 mile segments, created a website and posted the link to the website on Facebook. We needed 330 people to sign up and hoped to raise $20,000. By the time we arrived in Boston thousands of runners had touched our baton and we raised $600,000 dollars. There was one last stage to be run. The last 5 miles of the marathon. Thousands of people passed the baton back and forth as we ran down the road under fire fighters trucks draping the american flag over the road, guided by police vehicle with singing sirens of support.
With 2 miles to go Nicole took the baton from the crowd. She had been running the marathon on the day and with 2 miles to go was stopped by the police saying “There’s been an incident you can’t go any further.”
She later learned that their had been two bomb blast at the finish line. What she didn’t know was that her father John Odom had been caught in the blasts and was lying on the floor in a pool of his own blood with critical wounds to his legs. He died twice on the operating table.
In our run at 1am in the morning Nicole carried the baton the final 2 miles to complete her marathon – 11 weeks after she started it. But just before she crossed the hallowed Boston Marathon finish line she stopped. She started looking about. The hundreds of other runners came to a stop behind her. Confused, they wondered why she had stopped. Suddenly a smile crossed Nicoles face as she had caught sight of her father, John Odom, after being brought back to life twice was in the crowd in his wheelchair watching the runners and his daughter finally finish her marathon. He came out into the road and Nicole passed him the baton. She turned his chair so it faced the finish line and wheeled him over it holding the baton aloft with roars of celebration from the runners, crowd and media that were camped on the finish line.
Later that day John Odom looked up at me as I congratulated him and he responded with a look in his eye that I will never forget:
“Now, after what you’ve done, I can start to heal.”
Those words and that feeling will remain inside me as a nugget joy for the rest of my life. If ever I feel down or unhappy or am questioning my life choices I can always go back to that moment for a while and find pride and happiness in what I’d help create.
I’ve spent the last two year trying to organise a relay around the world. The World Relay. It’s an event that aims to unite humanity – something that is very much needed at this point in time.We’re working with the UN at the same time to utilise our funds raised to help end poverty and inequality and to reduce humans affect on this beautiful planet of ours.
Unite Humanity and End Poverty. Pretty big statements there. But we’re doing it. I’d love for you to join us.
We’re still looking for a sponsor to make this happen but until then have eyes on a London based and UK relay. Follow my Facebook page to know when these are happening.
You don’t need to pursue crazy big ideas to feel the joy of helping some, you simply
need to reach out your hand to someone in need. Is this the new intern at work
who’s scared stiff, a colleague who is having a tough time or a stranger in the street
who finds themselves in the need of a hero. Maybe this hero is You.