Notes from Jan

Marathon Moments

April 18, 2023

Yesterday was Marathon Monday and the tenth anniversary of the 2013 Marathon Bombing. While I never ran a marathon, I love this event and stories connected with it. However, there’s nothing quite like being there, cheering, like we did for our friend, Pat McCary, a few years ago. Thousands run and even more cheer for them along the arduous route. Some run for others and to support various causes. One of Jud’s nurses from MGH ran in memory of him and others. Thank you.

While the winners are off doing interviews, others check their times, head to medical tents or hug friends and family. Most runners finish hours later. Some collapse on the finish line, others kiss it. But all seem grateful it’s over, for today.

However, as streetlights come on and Boston cleans up after another marathon, a few still struggle on. No crowds remain to cheer and no officials wait with medals. But the sound of their feet slapping the pavement and the sight of one faithfully waiting for them on the other side is reward enough. The finish line is in sight

Those weary, persistent runners inform my life of faith. And so does recalling these words when I feel tired, discouraged or alone in my race. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses… let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” ( from Hebrews 12:1, NIV)

And I take courage from a story written by Francis Storrs in Sunday’s Boston Globe entitled, “Katie Lynch’s Legacy.” Katie identified herself as “differently abled.” She was born with a unique form of dwarfism. “At age 26, she stood 28 inches and weighed 35 pounds.” She described herself with a Latin phrase: Parva sed potens. Small but powerful.”

Katie’s remarkable story included being “an honors student at Wayland High, manager of two sports teams, a scene-stealing actor, and tireless dancer in her wheelchair at prom.” Katie graduated “summa cum laude from Regis College, while doing long stretches in the hospital. After graduating, she worked at Boston Children’s Hospital, advocating for sick children and their families.”

In 2001, Katie contacted the director of the Boston Marathon and stated she wanted to run it. He agreed. Then Katie said, “But my marathon is going to be 26.2 feet.” He said, OK.” As the story goes, her training regimen was running ten feet several times. Katie ” raised more than $20,000 for Children’s Hospital.” The morning of the race, McGillivray, the race director, “Marked out the 26.2 feet from the starting line in Hopkinton. Then small but powerful Katie leaned into her walker as the crowd counted down ‘ 3, 2, 1, GO!'”

And she went and finished the race marked out for her. Katie’s two brothers were by her side all the way. The crowd cheered as she was given the traditional laurel wreath and a marathon medal. “Katie died in 2002, at age 27. You can remember her as small. But the Powerful is what matters.” And I’m pretty sure Katie is part of that” great cloud of witnesses” cheering us on to the finish line.

For sure, it takes more than we alone can muster to keep going. It helps me to recall marathon moments when God showed up or someone cheered, offered a sip of water or an encouraging hug. And Jesus wants us to do that for each other. We’re not in competition. We’re on the same team. Whether they’re ahead, behind or running alongside us, we have the same goal. Finish.

There’s One on the other side faithfully waiting.

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4 Comments

  • Reply Dale April 19, 2023 at 7:58 pm

    Hi Jan,
    I have saved my first marathon for eternity when there will be no pain or death! I remember attending a funeral for Cliff Anderson (VP with Young Life and long-time friend) and a group of us identified by Cliff flew to Colorado Springs and stood behind the pulpit as a “great crowd of witnesses.” There are many who witness to Jud’s life and I am pleased to be one of those witnesses. Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 19, 2023 at 9:51 pm

      Thanks so much for this, dear friend. That must have been quite a sight gathered around that pulpit, bearing witness to Clifff’s life of faith. I am grateful for your friendship and ways you have been and continue to bear witness to Jud’s life. Dale.. There are many who do so for you and Marty, as well. Heartbreak Hill is more than a location in Boston, which is part of why we need each other to make it to the finish line, then HOME, at last.

  • Reply Alyssa Arnold May 16, 2023 at 11:42 am

    Brought me to tears. Here’s to finishing the race!

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