Competing in a Race is Not All About Winning

May 14th, 2024 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  JoAnn Cranson

Running for a specific team or club is a great opportunity and honor, but along with that comes an expectation.  Being on Team Athletic Mentors is a prestigious position to be in.  Naturally we (as a team) want to do our best and win races, whether running, cycling, triathlons, skiing, etc., but that’s not what it’s all about.

As a master athlete, I’m not going to finish in the top overall positions in events I compete in.  But there is so much more myself and others  can bring to a race.  My goal is to inspire others to find what they enjoy doing and to motivate them to pursue a healthy lifestyle and positive attitude.  This world has a lot of challenges and negative issues.  But as we are running, cycling, swimming, etc., it’s amazing what an encouraging word will do for others.

I worked hard at my running and qualified for the Boston Marathon this year.  I ran it just 4 weeks ago.  It was very inspiring, very challenging and the enthusiasm from the spectators was amazing.  It wasn’t about my finishing time, it was about taking in my surroundings and soaking in the achievement of making it to this Grand-Daddy of races in the United States.  The spectators lined the whole 26.2 mile route!!  The kids wanted to give us “high-fives”, others were handing out candy and orange slices in front of their houses, some were spraying water hoses to cool us off, many signs were held up, clapping, bells ringing and shouts of encouragement.

The last weekend in April my grandchildren’s school had a yearly fund raiser with a 5K run.  This is the second year – we ran it as a family.  Three generations with my son, my daughter-in-law and 2 grand-daughters.  My grand-daughters wanted to run with grandma.  Pretty cool to inspire the younger generation to be healthy, challenged and positive.

On May 5th, I ran a 10K (6.2 miles) in Kalamazoo.  As I was at about 2 miles, this young man was running beside me.  I told him he was doing really good and asked his age.  He said this was his first 10K and he was 13.  I told him we had a 50 year gap between us and he was surprised.  We ended up staying close by each other most of the way.  I tried to keep him updated on our pace, the mileage, encouraging on how great he was doing and that we were getting close to the finish line.  How fun it was to just encourage this young man and watch him achieve his goal.

JoAnn Cranson & William Bates

When we finished I asked him if he would be willing to take a picture with me.  As I put my hands on his shoulder and he put his hand on mine, I was thinking how great it is being complete strangers yet we could feel such camaraderie in 4+ miles of running together.  A big thanks to Zeigler for sponsoring this race and giving all of us, but especially new runners, the chance to compete.

So next time you are out and about don’t miss an opportunity to take a moment in the busyness of life to encourage someone.  You never know what an impact it will make in their life!



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