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Kevin Baker

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April 23, 2013
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An opportunity to 'run for Boston'

I started running back in 2006 when my sister encouraged me to assist in a team relay for the CIM (California International Marathon).

I’ve run in lots of races and local Grand Prix events since that time. My first official marathon was the CIM in 2007. I had a lofty goal of not only finishing, but qualifying for Boston.

My intent was never to go to Boston, but just to qualify. I trained. That meant late-night runs, leaving the house as my wife was putting my young daughter to bed, and Saturday morning running where I would be gone for a few hours, and they would come out to deliver water and nutrients.

There’s nothing like having water handed to you out of a smoking 1988 Subaru on Pasquale Road! Race day came and my training wasn’t perfect by any means, but I ran. For the first three-quarters of the race, I was well within the time I needed to run.

Then mile 22 hit me like a brick wall; I started to struggle to keep pace. By mile 24, my legs were Jello and the time on my watch seemed to move faster than it had the previous 24 miles. I didn’t stop running and I finished. My time was 3 minutes over the time needed to qualify for Boston.

With spaghetti noodles for legs and a shoulder ready to fall off, I wish I could say I wasn’t disappointed, but I was. And I vowed to try again.

A marathon, a 10K, or a 5K is more than just runners. Yes, you have to have runners for an event to happen, but it is way more than that.

There are countless people who support runners in profound ways: individuals handing out strawberries on Strawberry Hill, pianists playing continuously at mile 13, cheering crowds that congregate along the cold and damp routes, a daughter holding a handmade sign reading “Daddy, I HEART YOU,” officials placing thousands of awards over sweaty heads of wobbly-legged runners, the runner who himself finds the words of encouragement as she passes a runner who has drastically slowed his pace in the last few miles, the spouse who wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to deliver her runner to the bus, bus drivers who drive runners to the start line for a race, volunteers holding out cup after cup saying, “Water, water, water,” the rock band enthusiastically playing for six straight hours, the woman clanging her cow bell wrapped up in a blanket, the repeated yelling, “Keep it up, great pace, you can do it!”

These people are so invaluable to me! I’m certain than no sooner will I finish this piece than will I remember another individual for which I will not know their name, but will recall their immeasurable support. The reality of the support that is provided is unfathomable and I deeply appreciate the energy, time, and effort put forth by all of these individuals.

The tragedy in Boston reminded me of all the supporters and volunteers that I so much appreciate, and for the most part have infrequently noted or not explicitly thanked.

In the past I have run to qualify for Boston, but Saturday I will be running the Spring Run in Nevada City to support the victims in Boston. I will run for Boston! I may not ever meet one of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, but I know every one of them.

They are dedicated, optimistic, supportive people. They are friends, spouses, siblings, children, or witnesses to someone else’s dream that they may have thought to be unattainable.

You may choose to enter the race in either the 5K or 10K. I will be entering the 10K and will follow its path. I will finish the race, but will continue to run another 20 plus miles.

I am not prepared to run 26.2 miles, but neither were the more than 170 people impacted by the devastation last Monday. I welcome anyone to join me, whether it be an individual runner or a team that is willing to run 26.2 miles.

There will be no established support stations, although we may find a watering hose accompanied by a smiling face somewhere along the route.

Whether you participate in the race or not, you may contribute to several funds for victims. I will be making an event-specific contribution to UMCOR, through the Spring Run in Nevada City. One hundred percent of UMCOR donations will be directed towards supporting victims of Boston.

I would like to say that the monetary support generated from the run will make all of the difference in the world, but I’m more optimistic that a message from Nevada County will reach those affected by the bombing some 3,000 miles away.

The enduring message to “Keep it up, and you can do it!” will be heard.

The path to recovery may be challenging, but we are here and we are watching, cheering, and waiting with that cup of water in hand, if you need it.

Yes, I did try again. In 2010, I ran the CIM and I did qualify for Boston.

Kevin Baker can be reached at kbaker@att.net. To view a map of his race route, visit http://mapq.st/17NYOAO.

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The Union Updated Apr 23, 2013 11:42PM Published Apr 23, 2013 11:42PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.