Today, I took a race from a totally different perspective.
I was one half of the sweeping team for Portland’s Race for the Cure 5K walkers. My job was to help with the police and make sure that slow walkers either made it to the finish line or jumped onto the sidewalk before the roads reopened to traffic.
I normally run every year, but this year I flat out just did not want to spend the money. But so many people in my life have been impacted by cancer, and Komen Oregon has been there to stand for them. I may disagree with corporate Komen, but Komen Oregon will always have a special place in my heart.
I was supposed to check in at 9, but I managed to make it a tad bit early which was perfect because no one quite knew what to do with me and I did not have a partner to walk the banner with me because the other volunteer did a no show. They told me to grab a volunteer doing extra work and find a staff member to figure out what needed to be done. Turns out that extra volunteer was one of my team from First Thursday. After we found the staff, we got our assignment. We needed to trail the 5K walkers to make sure they made it all to the finish or on the sidewalk.
When we got to the start line we realized we had been in the midst of the 1 mile walkers. We decided to head for the turn off for the 1 milers and wait out the police car that would be the signal that the route was reopening. The thing is, that took awhile. Just when we had a break in 5K walkers going by and we thought we could go forward, another set of walkers would show up.
Once our new best friend the cop car came, we took off. It was interesting to see the “sea of pink” from the tail end. I overheard two ladies encouraging a women who has just finished her treatments, and as I told her “You are a survivor, nothing else matters.” We saw small families tackling the challenge of a 5K for the first time. (It is an amazingly family friendly race.) We saw couples walking to support each other or friends who are battling, and of course there are the pink shirts given to survivors. They are the reminder of why everyone is out there.
Portland’s race is amazingly supported, the water stop was just happy to see us because it meant they had been done. But they had cheered every walker like it was the first walker that came through. The cheer leading squads that had helped out on the course had been the same way. They had been super happy to see us, but they kept cheering for the walkers we had been herding in like it was the first runner of the day.
A few times we had to let our police escort get ahead of us while we stayed to grab walkers. Everyone was walking this race with a purpose and a passion. Our goal was to make sure they did not get left behind.
This is the slowest I have ever gone on a 5K but the most fun I ever have. It felt amazing to give back to an organization that means so much to so many people in my life. There is a power in passion in people walking one step at a time for the cure.