I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don’t have as many people who believe it.
I am an atheist, and if an atheist and a pope think the same things, there must be something true. There must be some human truth that is beyond religion.
Information after the jump.
Beaker. Pokey. A man in a dress. Thor. Spiderman. Captain America. A female Forest Gump. A team of mentally disabled children. A father pushing his disabled son in a wheel chair. Friends. Family. Church groups. Firemen. A half-dozen multicultural men and women dressed in Irish gear.
These are a sampling of what you might have seen if you were in downtown Jacksonville today for the 36th annual Gate River Run. According to the Florida Times Union the total number of runners for the 15k was 15,388 and they benefitted from a cool, sunny day with no wind. Beyond the visual entertainment and natural calm it was the first time my entire family participated. While Kerry and Sara traversed the course together, I had the benefit of running with my son Evan. The goal was to finish in under 90 minutes, a target which we just missed.
Historically my companionship has either been Brian Thompson, Philip Hughes or my iPod. This year the competitive nature normally driving training and participation was muted by the desire to see my son compete and experience the joy of Gate. His confidence turned to anxiety as we pulled into our parking space this morning. Having never gone further than 6 miles, and with the Hart Bridge looming, quite possibly the reality overwhelmed the bravado.
With my friend Brian unable to make the trip we leveraged his seeded race number and found an early home in the black corral. Being one of the first 5,000 means you are with those who run at your pace. The Easter Egg was the foresight of the race organizers – they staggered the seeded runners which meant we were near the front of the second seeded stage. Every year I struggle not running a sub 8:00 first mile because we work hard to find a less crowded race pack. This year the road before us was wide open which meant Evan and I could focus on a consistent 9:30 pace.
Could we have run faster? Probably. But discretion demanded discipline as we had no idea how Evan would handle the Hart Bridge. Cresting what some call the “green monster”, passing a good number of participants, I realized our planning had rendered the bridge an afterthought. For me it was my most aggressive attack and for Evan a well-earned feeling of accomplishment.
The last few yards showed that youth was king and his kick was a bit better than mine making him the winning Fullford for 2013.
While I did not run with my daughter I could not have been more proud of her as well. Leaving her mother early on because she wanted to push herself a bit more, she fell victim to the seams separating the concrete slabs on the Hart. Coming just past mile marker 9 I saw tears welling in her eyes due to a sprained ankle that had all but ended her ability to run across the finish line. Finding a break in the security gate I helped her cross under the banner and take ownership of her Gate River Run medal.
Every year the Gate becomes more of a family event and less of a personal challenge of where my aging body is. My in-laws from Melbourne and Tampa Florida came up – local in-laws and nephews were also there – Neighbors were present along with old high school friends. Billed as the largest 15k in America, the race really is a community gala with the 15k, 5k and a 1 mile fun run for children. You can see all shapes and sizes on the course as well as a wide range of ages. For me there is something to be said about a fitness event that affords you great memories and an extended community.
I look forward to the Gate every year and I am grateful for my family and friends who make it so special. Running or walking, competitive or casual, you can find a local event wherever you live which can be just as life affirming.
Last December I took my dog Roxy on a road trip. My destination was roughly unknown but the original idea was to spend time around Springer Mountain, the southern start of the Appalachian Trial, or the mountains near Asheville, NC. As my wife can attest to I love taking alternate routes or changing the agenda on a moments notice. Being with only a dog finally allowed me that level of freedom so with that spirit as my guide I took I-95 into South Carolina, stopped by Charleston, SC, ate a great hot dog with Jeff Wheeler at Perfectly Frank’s and opted to take his advise on hiking.
Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture.
What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The picture on the back of our race shirts reads “I’m running in loving memory of my beautiful friend Kim Paradise Ross.” It is difficult for me to feel comfortable with calling myself a “friend” of Kim. Looking at one possible definition we find the meaning as “one attached to another by affection or esteem”. In today’s virtual society the term has become so watered down that its value more closely resembles acquaintance, and it is there that my comfort level is found. Friend is a title to be earned, not assigned.
Kim succumbed to breast cancer July 8th of last year. My memories of her are primarily grounded in our teenage years. She and I attended Fort Caroline Middle School and Terry Parker High School. While we did not necessarily run in the same social circles Kim’s personality elevated her above the social cliques. It was not difficult to be drawn to her smile and undaunted optimism, things she shared with all who drifted into her path. After graduation she became nothing more than a yearbook photograph but one not forgotten.
Last year a mutual friend of ours, Amanda Farmer, asked me to participate in the Team Kim Ross relay for the 26.2 with Donna. When Amanda gave me the back story it was impossible to say no. Kim had fought and overcome the cancer but was now in the throes of a second attack, one which would be described to me as virtually insurmountable. Both the pre and post race feasts were a mix of joy for the cause and sadness for the reality that this would probably be the last race Kim would run.
Tomorrow Change-Can, through Society of St. Andrew, will be participating in the Second Harvest of North Florida city-wide citrus glean. It is a wonderful effort to engage the community to donate their citrus that would otherwise go to waste. Many volunteers have given their time on a Saturday morning harvest the citrus so Second Harvest can distribute it to those in need. I am honored to be the site leader for The Church of Jacksonville location.
- Southside/Beaches– Chets Creek Church, 4420 Hodges Blvd
- Mandarin– Mandarin Presbyterian, 12001 Mandarin Rd
- San Marco/Baymeadows – The Church of Jacksonville, 8313 Baycenter Rd
- Arlington– Arlington UMC, 1400 University Blvd N
- Westside- Potters House Christian, 5119 Normandy Rd
All sites will open their registration for volunteers promptly at 8:00 am. At my site there will be a table set up as my volunteers will need to do the following:
- Fill out a waiver. If a family is participating only one waiver is needed for the primary and all family members can be added to the back of the document.
- Review the rules for approaching residents, picking fruit and gleaning the site.
- Get assigned to one of two groups.
- Get assigned your map of sites which will include name and phone number of the resident. It is recommended you call them prior to arriving.
- Get the appropriate tools. I will have fruit baskets, clippers, hooks and sheets to catch any soft skinned fruit. I will also have hard hats for those gleaning grapefruit trees. You will need to bring your own gloves. I also recommend something long-sleeved as some trees, specifically lemons, are thorny.
- Get cards thanking the residents for their donation, which also doubles as a receipt for tax reporting purposes.
Some of the volunteers will need to remain at our home base to receive the fruit and put it into the bins for transport. I will make every effort to ensure volunteers go out with friends and family but it is important to note that both groups will need experienced gleaners so you allocation will need to be governed by experience.
For more information please visit the Second Harvest of North Florida website. You may contact me directly through Facebook, Twitter or by responding to this post. If you are reading this and have a citrus tree you are more than welcome to bring the fruit to any of the locations between 8:00 am and 12:00 pm. Better still if you would like to schedule a glean please contact me and I will visit your residence.