#290: The Race for Hope
The Race for Hope is a 5K race organized by the National Brain Tumor Society and Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure. I first discovered the race in 2008. I was at the National Mall cheering for a friend who had just run the Sallie Mae 10 Miler (which as far as I can tell no longer exists: they took everyone’s money and now everyone’s running 100 miles away from them.) But it existed back then and he ran it and did an excellent job; although if I remember correctly an octogenarian beat him in the last mile.
Anyway, after my friend’s race was over, we walked over to Dupont Circle and on the way there saw that there was another race happening at Freedom Plaza. Freedom Plaza, if you don’t know, is a giant slab on concrete on Pennsylvania Ave between 14th and 10th. It is by far the ugliest plaza in the district. We walked up to the plaza see what it was about and saw the big Race for Hope banner. On a corner of the plaza (do plaza’s have corners?) there was a bulletin board with the words “Wall of Hope” and pictures of dozens of people that had either survived or perished from brain tumors. Pictures of bald people hugging their families. Pictures of men and women, young and old smiling, looking at the camera, looking full of life. I got really sad and we walked away. I can’t remember if I had told my friends about the surgery, but I think I hadn’t. I don’t tell many people.
The next year I signed up for the race. I have been running since. Last year was the first time I signed up as a survivor. The race is normally really nice and everyone is really nice, but if you are a survivor everyone is extra, extra nice. They gave me a special yellow t-shirt, and a bag with things and a white hat that says “survivor”. They also gave me a yellow balloon and a bunch of words of congratulations. It was nice.
I ran the whole race by myself for years and this year Noel ran with me. We ran the whole thing without stopping. I cued a bunch of songs that I thought were inspirational. I ended with “Girl on Fire.” As I crossed the finish line a little kid ran ahead of me. The announcer said his name and said that he was 7-years-old and that he had survived and this was his first race. Congratulations, kid. Here’s to 90 more years of racing and 60 more years of me racing with you.