Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Simply Amazing

My friend Bill Barry completed his 100th marathon last Sunday! Woo Hoo! It was quite a feat. As I mentioned, Bill has suffered from a heart condition, and was unsure when, if ever, he was going to be able to reach his goal of 100 marathons. He has made several attempts in the last few years to close out his 99th with no success. Finally, he was able to finish it in Seattle and was ready to run his 100th. Because he was a founder of our running club, and a mentor to most of us, we wanted to make sure to be there to run it with him.

So, Sunday morning, a large group of us caravaned to Las Cruces, New Mexico which is only 30 miles from El Paso. The weather couldn't have been nicer - 47 at the start and 73 when we finished. There were probably about 20 of us running the whole marathon with Bill, including some old friends who have moved away from El Paso but came back to run with Bill. It was a wonderful mix of people, novices and experienced, old and young.

We ran the first half of the race at a reasonable pace, keeping it easy but steady. We joked around and had our typical running coversations. The course was an out and back, so we had to turn around and head back in at the halfway point. Here, we really started to slow down. Bill was struggling with dizziness (Yikes!), so our main focus was just to keep moving without pushing too hard. At mile 15, we were greeted by Bill's family and a big group of runners from Juarez, Mexico. The Mexico runners joined us, adding new energy and positive mojo to the group, helping propel us to the finish. Along the way we were filmed by local news crews and photographers (I told you Bill is quite the legend), as well as Bill's fan club.

As the run neared the end, more and more people joined the group. Runners who had only run the Half Marathon came back out on the course; runners who had raced the marathon also came back out and joined us. By the time we entered the stadium for the final lap, we had a group of about 50 people. The crowd in the stands stood and cheered for Bill as he ran across the finish line. There wasn't a dry eye in the crowd, including those of us running. Our time was 5:39. None of us were sure we would make it, but we did. Bill dug deep and crossed the finish line, reminding each of us why we are so inspired by him and how important he is to our running community. Congratulations Bill Barry!

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