Monday, December 28, 2009

Running for them...

On Saturday the 26th of December I ran my first race: the Christmas run. Arriving at the starting point, I noticed the route posted on the wall, showing the distance as well as the terrain. Having trained for an 8 km run, I was a bit shocked to see that it had become a 9 km race. I also realized that a large stretch of the race was along the beach. Despite this new knowledge, however, I was committed to run, running for charity: water, raising money for a well for an entire community. And, at least the weather conditions were good: dry and a temperature of 5 Celsius.

The annual run is held in Dishoek, near Vlissingen, and attracts a couple hundred people; this year there was a record of about 475 people. I guess that is why the registration took so long and the race started 10 minutes later than planned. Fortunately I did not have to wait alone. My parents, and three very close family friends were right by my side, committed to running this race with me. They were a great support through the whole race!

At 11:10 am the race began. We were situated at the very back of the group, so it took a little while before we crossed the starting line and off we went. We started at a good pace and ran a loop around the village (which I heard didn’t even count in the 9 kilometers!) before heading down the road. After that first loop we continued on the bike path along the bottom of the dike and soon climbed the stairs up the dike and down the other side (slowing us down a little as it was hard to actually run up and down.) The next stretch was along the beach, which was definitely harder than running on the road, but at least the sand was fairly compact. We did however, have a strong wind in our faces and also had to wedge our way through rows of poles posted from the dike to the ocean, at various points along the beach. This meant slowing down, choosing the poles to go in between, squeezing through, and then picking up the pace again.

Once the beach segment was finished we continued on a bike path, along the edge of the woods. And, with the wind in my back I felt like the run was going great again. I was determined. But then, something very unexpected came up: more sand, this time very loose sand. Unfortunately due to construction of the dunes/bike paths there was a fair stretch (1.5 km!!) of very loose sand that we had to run through. It was terrible. I seriously felt like I wouldn’t make it. I tried to focus on my goal: the people without clean water and those supporting my cause. I tried to regulate my breathing and keep my legs moving but I was slowing down even more. Fortunately one of my friends came to my side and helped me along: he slowed his pace down and ran in front of me so that I could follow directly behind him in his footsteps. And by doing this, I made it to the end of the sand pit!

After the sand pit I felt like the run was going better again. It was easier to pick up the pace. And, towards the very end, when the finish line was almost in sight, my supporting team of 5 let me run up front and I gave it all I had. I ran at double pace towards the finish. As I approached the finish I saw more friends/family waiting, cheering us all on. I threw up my arms in a victory cheer with a smile on my face, as I crossed the line, about an hour after having started. Although the race was harder than I expected, I did it! Thanks for your support!

The water campaign is still open for another 57 days. Having raised almost $3000, I am still hoping for another $2000 so that a well can be given to people in need. Please consider contributing to the cause. Give $1, $5, $10 or more. Give life, by giving water. Give directly on my campaign page:

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~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~