Doug Kleemeier and Pacer Edward Sandor at the Finish of the 2018 Superior 100 – Photo Credit Mike Wheeler
When we tell our children, our spouse or our parents that we “love” them I think we all realize that we are stringing together words that are wholly inadequate of conveying the depth of our emotion and years of shared experience. When I write my annual thank you letter, I feel much the same – “thank you” in my estimation, does not quite cut it. I have even started to question whether it is my place to thank you at all, wondering that if saying as much creates a distinction between me and you, volunteers and the race, volunteers and runners that simply does not need to be made. The way I have always seen it is that we are all one in the same; coming together, sharing in and making possible a meaningful, collective, human and spiritual experience that just so happens to be centered around the act of running. To be honest I kind of cringe when a volunteer (and I kind of dislike that word too) says to me “you guys do such a great job”, it is kind of embarrassing really, for the truth is that WE do a great job, WE make this happen and together WE have created something special here over the past three decades! In the future I challenge you to try saying “WE did a great job!” It is not “others” who distribute the supplies, operate the radios, track the runners, captain the aid stations, fill the water bottles, attended to injured runners, mark and sweep the course, etc., you do! So this year, rather than saying “thank you for volunteering” I will just say wow, we were all part of something really special and I am honored to get play my part in it all.
I will leave you with a single line that one of our runners posted on Facebook in regards to his experience at the race that I think speaks so concisely to what our collective efforts make possible. Obviously the stated goal is to create an event for our runners challenge themselves over 26.2, 50 or a 100 miles on the Superior Hiking Trail – but more importantly we are creating meaningful and impactful experiences that touch so many people in so many ways…
“Something changed in me out there. Something ancient and communal. Something beautiful.”
At the end of our aid station shifts, at the finish line on Saturday night, we have not only gone without sleep but we have spent hours engaging in something very emotional and very energy intensive and we are quite frankly, shot. After some hours of restorative sleep we awake on Sunday morning with a feeling that we were once again lucky to be part of something truly unique, a grand project, a spiritual experience that we rarely get in our day to day lives – it dawns on us how lucky we truly are to have this in our lives and we are ready to do it again.
I encourage you, as always, to join us next year – again on the team that makes this all possible, as a runner or in any other capacity, we want you with us one way or another. In the interim, should you have any questions, comments, compliments, suggestions or complaints or just want to chat, I am always available – don’t be a stranger.
Superior Trail Race