It Is Time for the Daytona 500

The Daytona 500 is the highlight of the year for NASCAR fans. It is the first race of the year, but it is the super bowl for racing. It is more than just a race. The fans spend hours and even days anticipating the event.

There is tailgating and lots activities surrounding the race itself. It is an adventure.

Hiking sounds boring to some. But hikers love the time hiking on trails, in the woods, seeing nature, and sharing the time with friends.

College and NFL fans are the same way. It is more than the game. It is being a part of the crowd, cheering their team, enjoying the food, seeing friends, and making new friends.

Hunting and fishing are like that also. Some folks enjoy the time in the woods and seeing nature. They spend hours walking, sitting, and watching for just the right time, that they can see or get that special deer, or that big fish.

Running a marathon sounds boring to some people. Running for four, five, or even six hours seems like work.

Today I want Mr. George to give you a glimpse of what a marathon is like.

Last weekend, we drove six hours to get to the marathon. Getting the packet with the goodies and number is always a fun time. Seeing friends and meeting new friends. On this day, there was a 45-minute bus ride to the start. As you board the bus, you see some friends as you make your way to a seat near the back. I sat with a man from Utah. The conversation covered many subjects. He was a contractor who runs about a marathon a month.

I have run the Salt Lake City Marathon, so we discussed that course. We found out that we have run several of the same marathons. Some even the same year. Kids and family were discussed and we learned that someone had lived near the other one.

The bus dropped us off in an open field, in thirty-degree cold and wind. I spoke to several members of the Marathon Maniac Club. Some I knew, and others I was introduced to. You quickly find out where they are from and what is next on their schedule.

As the marathon begins, the crowd is shuffled for the first mile or so, as the faster runners clear the pack and the slower runners drift to the back.

There are some family members at the start to cheer the runners as they begin. This race starts along a river with a short clearing to the water. On the other side are some quaint little houses. During the several miles here, there are a number of small animals and birds stirred up by the crowd. The conversation is about the sights. One house has a screened in porch. It must be special to sit along the river on a warm summer evening and enjoy the view.

There is always a thank-you to the aid station volunteers as they stand in the cold to give water and Gatorade. Some family members leap frog to be at another spot on the course. You get to recognize them.

After running many miles, the bridge is in sight. It is a three-mile bridge that crosses the Mississippi river! There is about a mile just to get to the river.

What a view. You only get the full impact as you run. You can look over the side and see paths and woods as you approach the river. Even as the river begins, there are small islands that are probably under water during the flooding season. The bridge itself is a marvel of construction. The concrete and wires are larger than you can imagine.

On the bridge, you face the strong winds that always seem to be in your face. For several miles after the bridge, it is still open road and winds.

Any time that you pass someone walking, the question is asked if you are alright. There are blisters, cramps, hurt knees, and various other injuries that slow the runner. But they still struggle on to the finish.

At mile twenty, the course turns into a neighborhood. At one house, a family set a table out and offered goodies to the runners. They were wanting to welcome runners to their town and subdivision.

One aid station had a tent and they were grilling hamburgers. They were planning for their hours of helping. Ahead you could see runners crossing the road to give a high five to a little one standing beside the road with mom.

There were many handmade signs along the way. One of the favorites has a target and says “Punch for Power.” One fellow hit the target and turned on the speed. You could hear mom tell the youngster that his sign worked.

As we entered town and the deserted streets of the morning, someone said that you could see the death march begin. The twenty-plus miles had begun to take their toll. The routine had begun to walk and run to the finish. The dreaded sign said, “Worst Parade Ever.”

Along the way you had met several new and old friends. If you met a newbie, or first time marathoner, they were welcomed to the looney bin. And their first-time status was announced to runners and aid station workers at every opportunity.

During the day, you learned about local places and points of interest and far away states and marathons to be sure and run. It is always fun to listen in on some conversations and the interesting comments. I even offered a policeman a donut to borrow his motorcycle.

This story is to illustrate that any adventure can be as fun and enjoyable as you allow it to be. So, whether you are in school, in church, or some meeting, you decide if you learn. Look around you will find plenty to see and do. What adventure will you enjoy today?

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Copyright ©2016 GEORGIA RUNNER – All Rights Reserved

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