Cheering at the Race for the Refugees to benefit IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services) last Sunday was about 95% amazing and about 5% bittersweet. I heard about this race a few weeks ago from Dolverine, a friend who I am helping get to her first half marathon later this spring. She’s become very active politically and her organization, Action Together CT, was a sponsor of the race. Then Snarky Girl and Coach DSS also decided to run it, so we had a little crew heading down.
I thought about running it myself, but I couldn’t stand the thought of pinning a bib on and not racing. Racing wasn’t in the cards for me for sure and anyway I hate 5Ks. I thought about volunteering, but that ended up too complicated in terms of timing, so cheering it was. I actually love cheering. Really love it. I got to cheer at the Houston marathon and the Boston marathon last year and I could have stayed all day. I figured I would make a donation to IRIS, cheer my friends, dodge the pain of a 5K and still have time for an early morning swim and an early afternoon Brownie meeting with Rose.
Snarky Girl and I drove down and got parked. We found Coach DSS and packet pick-up and they picked up their bibs.
They also got their shirts. Gulp. Nice shirts. Grey with purple writing and of course it says “Run for the Refugees” – a shirt I would love to have. No shirt for you, injured one. Ok. We also found Dolverine and her wife, the Transylvanian. Dolverine’s organization, Action Together CT was having a great day, signing up members, getting lots of recognition as a big race sponsor, and selling yard signs. Dolverine has been ON FIRE since the election and she is not stopping any time soon. It’s incredible and inspiring to watch her dive into politics with her usual ferocious attitude.
Snarky Girl and Coach DSS and I headed out to the starting line and chatted a bit and suddenly I realized – I need to get off the course. I am not running. Gulp again. I was glad I had on my long coat even though it wasn’t that cold. I didn’t look like a runner and I was trying not to feel like one.
This race was open to walkers also so almost everyone there was getting ready to start. But I joined the tiny band of spectators and cheered as they counted down the start.
Racing is exciting. Sure, I love watching big famous marathons, but I found Aidan’s one season on the middle school cross country team pretty damn epic as well. This 5K was no different. The volunteers were scurrying to get their act together. I heard someone say “Where’s the announcer? Has he does this before? Who is checking timing? Do they know what they are doing?” The starting mat was rolled up and the finishing mat rolled out and the photographers got in position. They barely got ready before the winner came running toward the finish line. It is SO thrilling to watch! But it’s not at all just the winners. There were lots of people working hard to break 20 minutes who came barreling down the road with their eyes fixed on the clock. There were pairs of people who for whatever reason ended up racing each other at the end, blind to everyone else. A couple of surprisingly older and surprisingly young folks crossing the line in less than 22 minutes. I love to cheer so I screamed my head off for all these people and had a total blast. This race also had some great costumes and signs to support refugees and IRIS.
Top place men’s and women’s finishers
Lots of signs on the course
Finally around 38 minutes Dolverine and the Transylvanian came in and finished strong. They circled back after they crossed for sweaty hugs and high fives.
No sign of Snarky Girl and Coach DSS. By 40 minutes, I figured something had happened either to one of them or they were helping someone. It turns out they had seen a runner fall on the course. She had MS but was running anyway and they stayed with her to be sure she finished safely. Runners are really lovely.
This race had one of the best post-finish spreads I’ve ever seen. Baguettes and ice cream and fruit and hot soup and granola bars and these fresh pineapple pop things and on and on. As a non-runner, I only took a couple baguettes that the bread people were clearly trying to get rid of. Back inside, I bought a yard sign from Dolverine and we all talked a bit of politics and enjoyed the band. Back home, I had another little pang. I didn’t run today. My foot is still bugging me. Gulp. But this won’t last forever and next year, I really want to do this race. Maybe I’ll get lucky and they will add a half marathon.