Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Eleven thousand doors to eleven thousand lives

On Sunday I ran my local Race for Life to raise money for cancer research. The race is popular in the UK; apparently women love to dress up in pink to walk or run 5k. I signed up with basic knowledge of the event: Busy. Far too much pink for my liking. And it would be silly...

We stood beneath a cloudless blue sky, on a heath thirsty for green. The weather grasped the body like a hot second skin. Thousands gathered in pink t-shirts, hats, tutus and feather boas, bunny ears and fancy dress.

Attached to the back of every person was a sign which read, 'I race for life for...' Before me were thousands of doors to thousands of lives. Some raced for mums, dads, uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters. Friends. Others raced for themselves, or for someone known by someone else. We were strangers bound by one common thread.

Perhaps the cause was still raw for me but I had never felt so moved. My surroundings were immense, the horizon tipped far and endless and the people ant like and tiny. It was like I had floated up and out of my body and I was privy to a weird giant puppet show from above.

And in that moment, I walked to the start line aware of my own insignificance- my own mortality. How trivial matters had been given the right name. How grateful I was to be there. Sure, I was boiling hot, sweaty and aching before the race had started. But I was hot, sweaty, aching and alive.

It's amazing how these things hit you in the strangest of places. Particularly when you're sandwiched between two women dressed like Betty Rubble from The Flintstones. Well. I did say it would be silly.


  1. It sounds kind of surreal, and it's funny how much good a change in perspective can do for us. I hope you are able to carry it with you (minus the pink) for a very long time.

  2. Sounds like a great experience. Really enjoyed this line: But I was hot, sweaty, aching and alive.

  3. I was beginning to think you'd never post again. Good on you for doing the race. Howd you do?

  4. Can we have a picture of you in pink? I'm sure you look cute. Really like your perspective of the event.

  5. Yet another great post. I agree with Sarah- i like your description of the event. I'm sure it will stay with you always.

  6. Bruce: It was such a surreal experience and i have no real idea why! But yes, it will stay with me. Reading all those back signs will always stay with me.

    Hunter: Thank you. It was a great day.

    Anon: Sorry, yes, i have been awol, apologies. I'll try to post a bit more regularly this month. I said try.

    Sarah: I wish i had a picture to post but my family never remember to bring one! That said i didn't really wear much pink. There was some on my t-shirt and a bit on my Nike running tights but that was it. I let the side down on the pink front, i'm afraid! Ooops.

    Kate: Thank you for commenting. :)

  7. Well done on doing the race for life. I ran it last month with my mum and sister. I did it more for myself than anything but it's certainly incredible to see all those people running in memory of people they've lost .x.

  8. Agreed, Lozzzy. I did it both for myself and in memory of a couple of special people- but i won't forget that feeling being surrounded by all those names. Thanks for stopping by. :)

  9. Beautifully written. Your sentiments are shared by so many of us who have been fortunate to run in solidarity, raising monies for such wonderful causes such as cancer research.

    If I were President of the United States of America, "United we stand" would be replaced by "United we run." We are not an idle Nation; we are a gracious and giving Nation!

  10. KJ- thank you for commenting. Agree with your change- 'united we run' has a nice ring to it and so very very true. :)


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