Health & Fitness.

Dear Huntsville,

Tomorrow is a big day for 2000’ish runners and probably 100s of spectators, volunteers, and support staff. It’s the Rocket City Marathon. And it’s special this year because almost EVERYTHING about it is new. The course, the expo, EVERYTHING. And there are a few dozen people who have been BLEEDING this race for the last year and have sacrificed time with their friends and their families and their bed and their dreams for the last few weeks as it rolls into a reality.

But let’s talk about the racers. If you’ve never run a marathon before…know this: Many people out there on that course tomorrow have been fighting demons for 12+ weeks to get them to this race. Demons that did everything they could to keep them from even showing up to toe the start line. There were voices from their childhood who made fun of them when they tried to do anything athletic. Voices from their friends and family who didn’t think this was a good idea. Voices from their bed, their couch, their desk…calling them to skip that run today. These racers have been struggling to climb a hill for 12 weeks JUST to get to the start line.

And let’s don’t forget about the voices in their head telling them to quit every time they hurt. There were voices in their heads making them feel guilty for not helping the kids with their homework that night because they had a run. Or the voices reminding them that they’ve never been athletic so WHY START NOW? Every racer out there on Saturday has had to fight demons from their own heads, trying to convince them that this was NOT a possibility.

And yet they showed up. They started. And now they’ll be keeping you from your Christmas shopping or your Starbucks.

And a lot of these racers are running those 26.2 miles in memory or in honor of lost or sick loved ones. Some of them started running because they lost someone too early and don’t want to put their family in the same position. Some of them wish their family or friend long gone could be there that day to see them cross the finish line. There is not a finish line I cross where I don’t think: I would give anything for Dad to be here to see this. Some of them have been at death’s door themselves, and have beaten their own health crisis to live again to run those 26.2 miles in our city.

Please think about all of the challenges these runners have overcome as they delay your drive to your errands or your events. Think about the volunteers who have put in endless hours to make this race a reality. Some of them will be at the race site at 2am tomorrow morning. Just to help these runners reach their goals.

OR EVEN BETTER…think about all of them today and plan tomorrow accordingly. Start with the map:

See where the course goes, consider the mileage and that the course has a 6-hour cutoff. It starts at 7am so, depending on where on the course you plan to need to cross, your window is 6 hours of potential traffic problems. Plan today to avoid it, if you can.

BUT IF YOU CAN’T…please know that the Huntsville Police Department is the most amazing support crew a city could ask for at a marathon. This course requires a lot more man power AND it’s a new course so they will be doing the best they can and they are good at what they do. They will get your through/around as quickly as possible but they will not jeopardize the safety of the runners and PLEASE, THANK THEM FOR US.

If you’re not a runner or if you don’t know a runner, you might be mad or frustrated. And we all understand that, because we’ve been mad or frustrated in traffic before. But just remember…these people crossing the road in front of you while you anxiously wait to get to your grandkid’s basketball game…these people are living a day they’ll never forget. This time next year you won’t even remember being stuck in traffic…but those runners in front of you? Will carry those 3-6 hours with them for the rest of their lives. Cheer them on…add to the positive energy they feel that day…and then you’ll forever be a part of that day in their hearts.

RACE ON, my friends. I’ll be the dork taking selfies the entire course.

7 thoughts on “Dear Huntsville,”

  1. I’ve been eyeballing a race next fall to run in memory of my dad who died last month and now I’m all pumped up and teary eyed.


  2. Two words. ……. LOVE THIS!

    Ok, a few more words, I would love to share this on my Facebook page with your permission.

  3. Wow. That is going to be a challenging course to cover for the police & volunteers. I wish them all luck in bearing the brunt of the traffic ire. Our triathlon is mostly in a state park, but the 1/3 on the road is challenging enough to maintain coverage. Eek!

  4. Just delurking to say:
    I’m not a runner and far from Huntsville tomorrow (and any other day), but this post is SO well-written. Just the right tone and an excellent example of what I love about your writing: looking for the kind and positive way to go through life.

    I wish you all the best for the run, I’ll follow your selfies from the south of Sweden and cheer you on!

  5. The best part about the new route: it goes RIGHT BY my house!! I can’t wait to be out front cheering tomorrow morning!

  6. Dear Huntsville,

    Yesterday I got up early in the morning and accompanied my sister and her friend to the starting line of the Rocket City Marathon. This was my sister’s first marathon and when the gun went off and the runners crossed the starting pad I messed up my mascara a little.

    I didn’t venture out a lot into your town, but I made sure to get out to a couple of spots and see my sister. The roads were manageable with great, happy! police officers directing traffic. The guy at the Space and Rocket Center was not only awesome to the runners (he was so excited for them) but he was so helpful to us on the side of the road and keeping everyone safe.

    I was impressed with so much, and so excited to share the day with my sister.

    Thanks for giving her a great first marathon experience.

    Alli Crumley, sister of Austina Jordan

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