On November 6, while Amy was running the NYC marathon, I planned on running the 5K Chili Challenge for the first time with my son Xander. The race is at Taughannock Falls State Park, just minutes from our home. We had picked up our packets earlier that week and had the chance to meet (in person) Gary and Wendy, an amazing couple who started this race in 2006, and are incredibly active in the local running community.
Race morning dawned cold, yet dry. We set about packing some options for clothing and headed down to the park. Despite the cold, we both decided to run in shorts and t-shirts, and had warm-ups for post-race. As we waited for the run to start, the cold wind relentlessly whipped off the lake, but there was no chorus of protest. The cold weather practically begs for the field to be stocked with the hardiest of runners, definitely my tribe if there is one. Which reminded me of this wonderful segment from Andy Jones-Wilkins (AJW), an elite ultra runner and educator, from a recent episode of the Trail Runner Nation podcast. Here's my paraphrase of AJW talking about community:
This community sucks people in because they lack community elsewhere. They find like-minded people here, sure, but many of our other institutions in our civilization that we may have counted on 25, 50 or 100 years ago are not around anymore. This one is alive and well; we really do have a tribe, we really do have a family. We really do have a feeling of, you know, yes, we're friendly competitors, but my gosh, when you see runners at the end of a race hanging out with one another? ... The community is here to stay, that's the bedrock.
As we were preparing to run and after we had finished running, I felt at home, enjoying talking to fellow runners who I know from many circles in life. It truly is a tribe, a community. As we continued talking over delicious chili and coffee, the smiles on everyone's faces told the story. Running is good for the self, and the community is good for the soul. It's all good.
My First Chili Challenge, By the Numbers
4 of 528 overall