Finish line

What if for one week, the world was filled with random acts of kindness? Or if for even just one day the kind spirit so innate to us, yet so often buried deep down, was unleashed to the world?

Last week we got a peek at what it may look like if we all took the time to do something kind for others– it was Random Acts of Kindness Week. This unofficial holiday is gaining popularity, which was evident last week as kindness hashtags ran rampant across Twitter. It was heartwarming to see the amount of traction “kindness” was getting. The idea of being kind is so simple, yet it has the potential to be so powerful.

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I wondered to myself: how good are we at being kind — as a society? Does it go beyond social media musings? Then my mind turned to the running community. From my perspective, runners have proven to be a kind-spirited bunch of people. I think most would agree that the spirit of camaraderie is exemplified on an ongoing basis — just look at the number of volunteers who give their support at local races, the encouragement exchanged between runners during competition and the support shown at finish lines.

It’s true that runners tend to be quite competitive people, but that doesn’t mean they are only out to win. Even among the elites, there are countless examples of runners showing they care. As I thought about this, several instances came to mind. Others I did a little research on:

1. Jacqueline Kiplimo: This elite Kenyan runner slowed down to help a disabled runner get his water during the 2010 Taiwan Marathon. Not only did she pass him his water once, she stuck with him over several kilometers and sacrificed what may have been a first place finish.

2. Amy Cragg: At the recent U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, Amy Cragg slowed her pace to help her teammate, Shalane Flanagan, when she started struggling. The two had been leading the field for the majority of the race and with an Olympic spot on the line, Cragg decided it was worth the risk to slow down and support her teammate. As Cragg and Flanagan had hoped, they both made the Olympic team, finishing first and third.

3. Meb Keflezighi: Known as one the most grounded, humble elite runners out there, Meb displayed his kind nature at the 2015 Boston Marathon. It wasn’t his best performance at Boston but instead of hanging his head, Keflezighi found a way to lift the spirits of fellow elite runner, Hillary Dionne, who had also experienced a disappointing race. As Keflezighi approached the finish line, he came up alongside Dionne and held her hand as they crossed together.

4. Reid Coolsaet: Canadian Olympic marathoner Reid Coolsaet, who’s in Kenya training right now, recently displayed several acts of kindness. He spent a day surprising locals in Iten with running gear.

5. Boston Strong: The loving acts displayed in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings reach too far to possibly list them all. The tragedy produced poignant moments of kindness– some caught on camera, others told through news stories and some probably never told. Still, the collective kindness born out of acts of such brutality provide some of the best examples of humanity we can find. I look forward to seeing how the Boston Marathon Bombing movie, which is in production, brings this spirit to the big screen.


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