Every one has their favorite part of a race. Some love the experience of the race itself, taking in the crowd support, the scenery, the mental and physical challenges. Others love the finish, the accomplishment, the medals. I love all of those things, but my favorite part of every race is simpler then that: the start line.
Whether it's a 50 runner field at a small local 5K or 40,000 runners from all over the world at a marathon, we are all equal as runners and standing as one at the starting line. All of our running journeys have lead is to the same point. Pace, weight, ability, experience, none of it matters. Everyone at that starting line had the courage to do what millions will never do.
We race for fitness, in the memory of others, to accomplish personal goals, to raise money for charity, and yes, to win. At the start, no matter the reason, we share a common bond, we are there together. This is when one of my favorite things about the start line happens, what I call chance meetings of awesome.
I have met so many people at the start line and discussed goals, found out about locals races, shared training and nutrition tips, joked about the line at the port-a-potty. At an out of town race you might get tips about the course or valuable info about the city and local food or entertainment. These conversations will last from 10 seconds to 10 minutes with complete strangers, but as runners we share a common bond and many times it feels like talking with an old friend. The more you race the more people you will meet, and will begin to recognize people, especially locally. This strengthens the running community, and makes the start line feel like home.
Most importantly, there are no comparisons at the starting line. Fast or slow, couch to 5K or hundreds of miles of training, 5:00 miles or run/walkers, wheelchair participants, we are all together. We all feel some combination of fear, nervousness, anticipation, hope, courage, and pride. We have all worked hard to be there. The differences between us unimportant, runners at a starting line are a family.
The race and the finish come with their own victories and defeats, but always remember how important the start line is, and how amazing you are as a runner for getting there.
There is no finish line.
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