17 August 2010
prayers & thoughts, please.
this past weekend, i ran in the Spokane to Sandpoint relay, a beautiful race that takes a team of 12 runners on a 185-mile route from Spokane, WA to Sandpoint, ID. It was gorgeous weather, great to be back in Spokane (my college city, but I hadn't visited in years), and wonderful to run the race with such a fun team.
However, on Saturday morning, about 20 hour into the race, there was a terrible accident. While along a wide highway in Northern Idaho, a motorist heading east veered from their lane, across the other, and hit a woman and a young runner who were along the west-bound shoulder. During the night, runners could have pacers either run with them or bike next to them to help with running times and to increase visibility to traffic. The pacer in this case - a mother of one of the other runners - was killed. (News article is here). The driver has been booked on manslaughter charges and alcohol may have been involved.
Relay teams began in waves, and we started out at 8:50AM on Friday morning. Since the race is so long (our time was around 27 hours to complete), we got to know the other runners and teams, recognizing their support vehicles and their runners. This team was made up of high school cross-country runners and their mothers. Our team had been leapfrogging theirs and we were ahead of this on this particular leg (about 6:30AM). I saw the ambulance go by while I was waiting for our runner to finish, and I prayed it was not for a runner on the course. Over the next couple of hours, we got word of the accident, who it was, and the tragic death. The race - with teams spread over miles and miles of distance - isn't one that can be canceled, so we finished as planned.
Back at home now, I'm digesting. This situation is making me think about open-course races and their inherent danger, a danger I never understood. It's making me think of how random and tragic life can be. It's making me want to implore people to be aware of bikers, runners, and walkers on the road and to never drink and drive. It reminds me there is so easy answers or ways to ensure things like this never happen again. I haven't settled on some of this issues - like if I will do a race like this again - that will take some time. Meanwhile, I ask you all to keep those affected by this accident in your prayers.