Waiting to run on the final wave of the New York City Marathon, you get to hang out and chat with other runners. You talk about life, favorite races, personal records, best fans, worst fans, best water station, porta potties without toilet paper, porta’s that need to be clean, portas used as shelter during a heavy rainstorm and the topics spiral from there. While those are all interesting and humorous, I am interested in the “why.”

Why do people run, who do they run for, how are they honoring their person or people, where have they done their 5K or triathlon, what did they wear on race day as a reminder, how did they feel at the end of the race?

Waiting for the howitzer to sound, cueing Frank Sinatra’s New York New York, you see a lot of “why” in the corral. Running for mom or dad, to end cancer and raise awareness for blood cancers, first responders, a deceased loved one… and tequila.

For the New York City Marathon, I had the opportunity to run with new friends as a part of Team WorldVision. Running for six children I sponsor through the organization, I made the most out of wooden “One Medal” medals. Each medal with the name of my sponsored child and tucked away on my fuel belt. Because of a last minute wardroom malfunction (cause by some indulgent carb loading) I switched to a lighter, airier shirt which was perfect for the warmer, humid weather that would force many in the race to drop out.

The race support can be described in one word “WOW.” It wasn’t just one section, though each sections provided a different running experience and encouragement, it was the whole race! In the nine marathons I’ve run, this was the best crowd experience, bar none.

Ok, if I were to say the best, it would be the Bronx. That was where my mom, Aunt Paula, Aunt Pam, Uncle Greg and Uncle John, Aunt Kathy met me at Mile 22 with a slice of New York Cheese Pizza (my request). The three to four minute break provided the energy to finish the race. It also turns out that there was a little wager on when I’d get to them. My Aunt Paula won and made a donation to a community where one of my sponsored children live. So Good!

Finishing the race, draped in the traditional blue poncho I pulled out the six wooden medals to place along side my finishers medal. Walking to meet the team, many people stopped and asked about the One Medal. I gladly stopped and shared my WorldVision story and how the organization supports families in the mist of global poverty.

Upon my return to Albuquerque, I send the medals to my contact. The unexpected blessing of gratitude from the sponsored kids was humbling, to say the least.