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Feel the love

In some sports, the main purpose of some participants is to physically damage the opponent.

Maybe, in a perfect world, this wouldn’t be so, but any of us who have been around sports for long know this to be true.

There are “enforcers” in college and pro sports such as football, basketball and hockey, to name a few, who, when put in the game, are there primarily to hurt a key player on the other team.



And what else do boxers do but try to physically destroy their adversary?

So it’s refreshing to see and be involved in a sport where there is most often respect, encouragement and true good wishes for the other team members or rival competitors before, during and after the race.




This happens more than you might think.

For example, on Thanksgiving Day, 2001, I was running a strong 5K race at Run To Feed the Hungry in Sacramento, when, with about half a mile to go, Matt Freitas caught me.

At that time, I had seen Matt get better year after year, slowly catching up to me even though I was also improving each year.

I was doing my best to prolong the inevitable, the race when he would finally beat me.

As he passed me, both of us working hard and with no breath to spare, Matt used valuable oxygen to say, “Come on Steve!” and I replied, “Go Matt!” He ended up running 18:30, his best ever at that point, while I finished in 18:38, my best in my 40s on a certified course, so we both ran well.

Matt caught me that day, and I have only seen his back in races since then.

But what most impressed me was his caring, encouragement and sportsmanship.

And this is something I have found to be common to many runners.

At the Davis Stampede 5K several years ago, awesome Master’s (over 40) runner Frank Thomas was trailing the top three runners in the race, all of whom were around 20 years younger.

The three leaders were taken on a wrong turn by the volunteer person on the bicycle who was (mis-) directing them. Frank, behind them at the time, but having run the race in prior years and knowing the course, took the same wrong turn to chase after them to yell they were going the wrong way and get them back on course. He could have let them go and won the race, but sacrificed the win to get the leaders back on course, and ended up finishing fourth overall to those same three runners.

Now that’s true sportsmanship!

Two Novembers ago, at the Clarksburg 5K, a friend of mine, Steve Hall, a top 50-54 age group runner in northern California, was on the starting line next to me, with top women’s runner, Stacey Worthen next to him.

The starter’s gun went off and the stampede from the starting line blasted away. I heard a commotion to my right and a loud thump. Glancing over my shoulder, along with the sounds I heard, I could see that someone had clipped Stacey’s heel and she had gone face down into the pavement, hard.

With a sick feeling in my stomach, I hesitated, trying to decide if I should stop, when I saw Steve stop and help her up, asking if she was okay.

Knowing she was in good hands and at the start where there were certainly people to help her, I kept going. Before the mile mark, Steve had caught up to me, we had a brief conversation about what happened, and he kept going, passing me. I caught and passed him in the middle mile, only to have him blow back by me shortly thereafter and continue on to finish 11th overall (out of over 200 finishers) and win his age group, beating me by 9 seconds (which would have been more).

And he did so well after stopping to help a fallen fellow runner. Amazing!

And this is just one more illustration of the true caring and sportsmanship evidenced by many distance runners.

Steve Bond, a local competitive runner and regular contributor to The Union,

writes about running, runners, and running-related topics. He wants to make

sure that readers are aware that, for still-to-be-determined reasons,

forwarding for the steveb@theunion e-mail address has yet to function

correctly. He has never received any e-mails sent to that e-mail address,

and it has come to his attention that there have been some, so he wants to

make it clear to everyone who has written that he has not been ignoring their letters. Any e-mails sent to his personal stillrunning5@sbcglobal.net e-mail address will be answered. And he thanks you for writing with your thoughts, suggestions, stories and comments.


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