This morning I ran the Baltimore 10 Miler. Baltimore is one of my favorite places to participate in an organized run, of course I like the hills and running around Lake Montebello a major highlight but the people are second to none. I’ll start with the spectators. In Baltimore the spectators aren’t just those who are tagging along with a runner, the spectators are throngs of neighbors who come outside to cheer for a bunch of strangers. Just about every house has a porch or sidewalk full of cheerleaders. They make noise in any way they can think of, they clap and cheer of course but some bang on pots and pans with wooden spoons, some play the banjo, some play kids toy instruments, some blast music from their cars along the street. Baltimore residents wave signs, high five runners, and offer their own water stops. They could stay inside, close the blinds and wait for the roads to reopen and go about their day. Instead, they wake up at an hour most people don’t see on a Saturday morning and create a cheerful positive environment.
Then there are the race volunteers. The volunteers man the water stops, ensure the integrity of the course as Race Marshalls, and staff the celebration village at the finish line area. They carry out their specific duties but they do it with a smile and they never stop cheering.
I must mention the Baltimore City Police Department. They have a presence, generally at least two or more officers, at every single cross road. Now, I don’t mean they just stand there and direct traffic or wait for something to happen. They cheer for the runners, they add to the positive atmosphere. And it’s not just that, many off duty officers participate in the races. In the case of the 10 Miler, the Police Academy cadets heavily staff the finish area, making sure everyone knows where to go and where the food and drinks are, and hand out icy towels. The cadets are also responsible for handing out the race premium at the end of the race, a task which on its own takes several dozen people.
Given my feelings for how wonderful the people, including the police department of Baltimore are, you can imagine hearing of the unrest in recent weeks left me heartbroken. This isn’t a political post, I don’t even begin to know or have an opinion on who is right and who is wrong and it really doesn’t matter. This is a post about human decency and being a respectful part of the human race. Since the picture of Baltimore I have seen will never make it to the headlines, I’ll share a few snippets because the world deserves to know more than negativity.
Running around Lake Montebello you have view of about one mile’s worth of the field as runners enter the park, circle the lake and exit the same way they entered. That’s thousands of runners within view, all running, in harmony.
I can imagine that having your neighborhood roads be closed for several hours on a Saturday morning is a real pain. There are always cars waiting at the side streets to cross the roadway closed to runners. Depending on the timing and location, they could be sitting there for quite a while. This morning an older lady was sitting in her car, just behind the police officer standing at the intersection. She had her window down and was yelling encouragements to the runners while honking her horn.
During the Baltimore Running Festival held in October each year, there is a specific block that always goes out of their way to create a big party. They have huge speakers playing “Good Moring Baltimore” from the musical Hairspray and they hold out water, fruit, and gummy worms for runners to grab as they go by.
Doctors, preachers, retail employees, and barbers come outside of the hospitals, churches, stores, and barber shops to tell the runners they are doing great, looking good, keep it up, just three more miles!
Community groups volunteer to staff water stops.
Bicycle paramedics circle the course to ensure they can address any medical emergencies right away and keep the athletes safe.
This morning, a car was waiting to pull away from the curb in front of a home. The young girl in the front seat was wearing a cap and gown. As hundreds of runners passed they all shouted “Congratulations!”
These people were red, yellow, black, and white. Different colors, sizes, shapes, socio economic statuses and backgrounds. Everyone has a different story as to how they arrive at involvement with these events, be it participants, volunteers, spectators, neighbors, or police officers but for a few hours everyone looks out of each other.
This particular post is about Baltimore but it could be Anywhere, USA. A glance at current events could have you thinking the world is all bad, all of the time, everywhere. Let’s treat each other with respect, Let’s assume that the next guy might not be having his best day. Let’s go out of our way to make the world a little bit better. Let’s be decent respectable humans. Let’s maintain a world we are happy be a part of.