Thursday, January 16, 2014

Why #megsmiles? Because we're runners

Meg Menzies was one of us. A tweet informed me of her death a day after it happened. A few searches later, I gleaned the quick facts and as I read, my heart sank. Marathoner. Morning run. Drunk driver.

She could have been any of us. A 4:07 first-time marathoner a decade ago. A 3:05 marathoner in 2011. A Boston marathoner in 2012.

She was taken away from us doing what she loved. And it's a damn shame.


Sometimes what separates me and the driver staring back at me is my right hand, pointing. It's a trick I learned a long time ago, a test of trust between runner and driver. Often, going with the green or white walking-man signal, I'll slow my pace slightly, raise my arm, and point.

A connection between a 138-pound runner with a flimsy few layers of gear and the driver, encased in steel, glass and rubber, tonnes of it. I somehow believe that if I point, I'm making a connection, drawing our eyes together, as if to say, "Hi, I see you -- you see me, lets get on with this, I'm running, you're waiting."

There are moments of fear, when I realize that the said driver doesn't have his or her hands hugging the wheel. I know that look, accompanied by the glance down at their smartphones. That finger pointed could easy turn into a lecturing tsk-tsk wave.

The winter takes me out of the waterfront trail and on to the city streets. The short days put me in darkness, hoping that the glow of my Garmin, the blinking red LEDs on my shoulder and my silver-coloured gear is just enough to catch the attention.


Meg was one of us, so even though she was from Virginia and we're up here in Canada, there are no borders, no citizenship needed to be embraced or adopted into this running family. The fears we have for safety, the close calls we've all endured and the scorn we often face in the forms of a honked horn, yells or a steering wheel pushed in our direction puts this tragedy into focus. It could have been any of us.

Non-runners don't really get us. They don't understand why we run. They don't understand our passion, just don't understand.

But there exists a code, a code that says when you join the ranks, you join a family. And a family comes together in times of crisis. Like when Emma passed, a fellow runner came to her aid, and she was in all our thoughts (and continues, when I pass the point where she died). Or when we lost Danny, that hero with so much promise, he was jogged into his resting place where many runners now pause to pay their respects. Or when the bombs hit Boston, we felt no other urge but to run faster, run again to Hopkinton, run the very next day to show our defiance -- and strength and support for this community. This family.

As of this writing, 64,000 runners are going to run a few miles for Meg on Saturday under #megsmiles, bringing awareness to runner safety and to honour her memory. That would make it a bigger field than the biggest marathon, larger than Chicago, Boston or New York. Like in big races, when solitary miles get checked into the corrals and we emerge as one, we'll come together. For Meg. Because she is a runner, one of our own.


TWINS RUN in our family said...

Thanks for sharing. #WeRunTogether #megsmiles

Mike said...

Nice words, we're part of a family even if we didn't know her. Can #MegsMiles encompass trail running? If so I'll dedicate Saturday's run with Toronto Trackers to her.

Running with Rhyno said...

Nice post. I got chills when I heard Meg's story. This could have been one of us. Thanks for putting this into words.

Robin said...

Great post Kenny!

Anonymous said...

Very well said. Reminds us all that our passion for running binds us runners together even if we don't always realize it.

Runner Leana said...

I was so sorry to hear about Meg. She was out doing what we all love to do. Like you I try to wave as I'm going through intersections, and I've now got blinky lights and a reflective vest to wear when it gets dark out as I figure that can't hurt.

Marky Mark said...

I hadn't heard about this awful story-thanks for writing this. So true.

Unknown said...

This week after reading about Meg, I was constantly reminded of road safety. Even tho I had a walk light, a car ran a red light. I jumped to safety. I almost hit a cyclist who ran a red light. Oh my. Wear lights, reflective gear. Look both ways. Do an extra shoulder check. It was feeling a bit pouty that my 10km run this morning was slow. about 11 minutes slower than a recent race. And THEN I realized that this morning some of us weren't running. Couldn't run. So yeh. 10 slow kilometres is a hellofa lot better than none! Happy running to all you! xoxo

Krists said...

#megsmiles was so inspiring. Runners are such a great group of people. Thanks for sharing!