I recently completed another 5K, and I’ve realized that there are two main types of events: those that benefit a cause, and those that do not. I’ve participated in both of these types of races, and any event can be loads of fun and personally rewarding when completed. Both are full of energy and like-minded individuals coming together for a common purpose. Both usually come with cool swag.
But this last event had a greater impact on me than any of the others I’ve run.
A few months ago my friend Tina’s father passed away from pancreatic cancer. It was an extremely difficult time for her, and as her friend it was difficult to watch her care for him in his final weeks. I would have done almost anything to help her. There wasn’t much I could do then, but it turned out that there was something I could do later.
The Purple Stride 5K was coming to our town, a race put on by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network to raise awareness and funds for pancreatic cancer research. Tina organized a group of friends to complete the race together in her father’s honor, and we tie-dyed T-shirts, donned matching socks, and met up that morning for the event. We were “Popo’s Dream Team,” and we were ready to run.
It was one of the coolest events I’ve been a part of. There was purple everywhere – even the vendors’ tents were completely purple. We were given streamers and ribbons to wear, and one of the girls in our group made up “Popo’s Dream Team” signs to pin on the backs of our shirts to honor Tina’s father as we went along the route.
The course itself was pretty easy. The route doubled back a few times along the way, which I love because it forces you to be in the same place as other racers (as they are both ahead of you and behind you), and since everywhere you look you see others participating in the same event it’s nearly impossible to forget that you are a part of something big.
We finished the race running up a pretty steep hill (at least, steep for where we live), and were greeted by a mass of people in purple giving high fives and cheering us on. I’ve done a few races now, and there’s always a cheering crowd at the end, but I’ve never seen a crowd of strangers that made me feel like they couldn’t be prouder of me.
There was a genuine feeling of love and support in the air – we were all there for the same cause, and it created a unity among everyone there. It didn’t matter if you were a cancer survivor, had a relative who had fought this disease and was winning or lost their battle, or a friend supporting someone else’s struggles, everyone there was an equal in the fight against pancreatic cancer.
If you’ve never run for a cause close to your heart, I highly recommend it. Maybe a friend struggles with an addiction. Maybe your grandmother passed from an illness. Maybe you have a heart for homeless animals. There are so many races out there all over the country that support causes, and participating in one can prove to be incredibly and personally fulfilling.
But the best part is letting others know that you support them. And that in itself is a cause worth running for. ❤