I love the atmosphere of a race. To me, that's one of the best things about participating. I like to beat personal records, sure, but I'm not necessarily there to win. I mean, if I won, that would be the coolest thing ever, but that's not why I show up.
Actually, I don't even do many races. I would say my average is maybe two a YEAR. I hope to raise this in the future. Just writing it down makes me realize how pathetic that number is. Especially considering how much fun I always have.
When you go to a race, you will see every kind of person. Gender, age, color, size, shape, everything. Everyone is energized. You can feel the air thick with it. Without having to talk to anyone, you suddenly are part of a community. Sometimes it's a very large one. You all have at least one thing in common. You are here to run. I can't imagine many people do races when they don't like running. Maybe some do it for other reasons. There is something amazing about being around so many people who are passionate about the same thing.
Usually, I don't like going to events by myself. At a race, although I prefer some company, I can handle going by myself. It is a comfort to stand, waiting, at the start line, blending in with a crowd of people who are essentially the same. Yes, some are faster. Yes, some wear headphones. Maybe a few don't want to be there. When you are in the middle of everyone, you only feel the expectation of what is to come. The few minutes before the race, everyone is posed to begin. Excitement waves through and around. Once we are allowed to go, allowed to release our pent up energy, we run. No, we are not running together in the sense that we all know one another. But we are running together on this course. We are bound together by this one race. It doesn't matter who you arrived with, or if you arrived alone. Now you are running with everyone.
I sign up for races because it reminds me of how much running effects so many people. No matter where I'm running, there are other runners out there doing the same thing at the same time. Our feet pounding the pavement, or track, or trail. Sometimes it's nice to be able to see it. Tens, or hundreds of people. All with one goal, run to the end.