Recently, I ran in a Midsummer Night’s Race to support the Guelph Symphony Orchestra where musicians serenading you as you run is par for the course. Notes of classical music fill your ears as you fall into a rhythm. The 5K course is beautifully laid out, taking runners through the picturesque grounds of the Homewood Health Centre, one of Canada’s largest leading facilities for the medical treatment of mental health and addiction disorders. It then returns along the trans Canada trail. It was only through a casual conversation last year that I learned of this race, as it’s likely to be one of Guelph’s best-kept running secrets. Looks like I just let the cat out of the bag. 

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It was a sweltering evening in July – one of those evenings where a large thunderstorm is looming but never does come. Even a small sprinkle would have been welcome to beat the heat, but we were glad that it held off for the benefit of the musicians on the course. It was also bittersweet for me, as I used to work at the Homewood and remembered with fondness working at this amazing hospital.

There’s one thing I noticed about this race and it’s how much the runners that stood out for me. Their support of each other was particularly note-worthy as I watched many finish their race, loop back and run alongside others who had yet to make it to the finish.This truly warmed my heart. It’s all I can do to get myself across the finish line, let alone go back onto the course and run alongside other runners.

This got me to thinking that I can do more to support others on the course. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Cheer other runners on while running on the course. A few words of encouragement go a long way.

2. Instead of passing runners on the course, run beside them, even if it’s just for a little while. Strike up a conversation and offer to help to pace each other.

3. Running with another runner to and across the finish line, instead of running past them right at the end.

4. Say a thank you to every course volunteer you pass. They’re giving up their time to stand in one place, regardless of the weather, to help out.

5. Circle back after you have crossed the finish line, to help others do the same.

Over the next few races, I’m going to work on practicing race kindness, and I encourage you to do the same. And remember, in a race, we’re all in it together.


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