Yesterday we spent the whole day in London. Rising at 5.00am to be in Greenwich Park – at the starting point – for 8.15am to meet the other runners raising money for the same charity as our daughter. Approximately 500 other runners.
This charity “Whizz-Kidz” (http://www.whizz-kidz.org.uk/) raises about 80% of its annual operating income from this one event. I learned that sobering fact during the marathon registration last Thursday. A figure of around £1.8m just from the London Marathon.
So at 8.30am they took a picture of this band of runners: (http://www.whizz-kidz.org.uk/support-us/events-challenges/virgin-money-london-marathon and then in search of a loo (toilet), we hugged our daughter good bye as she headed inside the runners-only-area looking for the banks of portaloos.
The whole day left a wealth of memories. Some amazing. Some profound. Others of confusion.
Like – how hard it is to spot our daughter amongst waves of runners jogging past – no matter the technology employed in timing and tracking devices. Like – no matter the training and level of fitness gained in training, on the day it is the weather (it was sunny and warm) which becomes a huge factor in how long each runner takes. Like – how good-natured so many thousands of spectators can be when most have someone they know running. Like – no matter each runner’s motivation, unless they are prepared to “go with the flow” on the day many will not finish (or finish disappointed with their performance). Like – watching an ever flowing sea of pain and determination go by at 22 miles of the whole 26.2 miles was both humbling and connecting: the spectators willing on with calls and using the runners names (printed on the vests). Like – finding out afterwards (from our daughter) that encouragement like “Come on name keep running you can do it!” may elicit an unspoken response of “Well get your vest on you expletive and show me how!” Like – encouragement of “Well done, you are doing a great job” … “Keep going, you have raised so much money, well done” … does inspire and does help tired legs and muscles go that bit further. Like the sight of a loved one’s face in the crowd, amongst so many thousands of others, means so much … that buddying-up with someone before the race makes the 4-5 hours amongst so many “not lonely” … that water should be sipped, not gulped, for good medical reasons in this gruelling ordeal … that finishing in a lesser time than hoped still gets you that great big shiny medal … that mobile phones (cellphones) are indeed of god rather than man when it comes to finding family amongst thousands of others … loads of things like that and more.
And yet one thing stands out.
Just before coming to my daily dose of verses this morning – our daughter called out. She is spending the day relaxing and letting her tired body and mind recuperate a little before heading back to normal living.
A runner – who had completed the race – had died. The marathon website had posted the news overnight. No details. Just that one person had died.
There were maybe a million plus people there yesterday. A number of runners passed out along the way and received treatment. The voluntary medical organisation, St John’s Ambulance (http://www.sja.org.uk), always provide first aid treatment, medical stations, at events such as this. People temporarily unwell are expected and receive no mention. One person being saved in this world is not such a big deal. We focus on body rather than soul. Repair the body and off we go again. Life goes on. We go on.
One person dying is not. Life being snuffed out is not. One person dying we connect with. One person we do not know, neither name nor detail. We still connect. We still feel something. We were there, we may have seen them run by. Our daughter could have been that person. And even though she is not – she might have passed them – after the finish line.
Amidst all the joy and the celebrations of so many hundreds of thousands – even though we do not know them – even though we never will. One unknown person dying is a big deal.
Just a thought which popped up this Monday morning of the week during which we head to Good Friday.