This past weekend was a big one in the running world. It might not have been the NYC Marathon or the Boston Marathon, but it was a momentous weekend nonetheless.
On January 13, 2014 Meg Cross Menzies was out for her morning run, training for the Boston Marathon, when she was struck and killed by a drunk driver. Her husband was with her for that run and at her side as she died. Thousands of runners came together after this tragic accident to virtually run in her honor, leave their shoes at the spot where she was struck, and pay tribute to a fellow mother and runner.
This event struck hard in the running community. Meg was a smart runner and played by the rules. She ran on the side of the road and against traffic. She was experienced and had even qualified for Boston, a bucket list item for many of us runners. She was a great mom and a pillar in her community.
In the weeks after her death runners joined forces to run in her honor and #MegsMiles was created. The Meg’s Miles Facebook page as of last night had 17, 499 members. Athletes post their mileage and runs and discuss how during even the most difficult of training moments, the thought of Meg has pulled them to the end. The page has served as a source this past year for runners to look for support in their training. Many of these runners took to the sport after learning about Meg’s accident.
This past weekend was the Richmond, Virginia Half and Full Marathon, close to where Meg lived. Athletes in the Facebook page posted pictures and stories of their race experience and visits to Meg’s memorial at the spot where she was struck nearly a year ago.
Reading through the Facebook page was absolutely inspiring. One runner discussed being at her first half marathon ever this weekend and the nerves that hit her as she waited alone in her corral. She was wearing her #MegsMiles shirt and another athlete came up and put her arm on the runner’s shoulder. She simply said, “I am a Megger too.” The athlete recounted what a great feeling it was to feel like she was no longer alone on the course. She was in fact among friends and family. For the rest of the race she noticed fellow “Meggers” in front of her and along the course cheering.
In fact, many of the people on Facebook came to the race, not to run but to hold signs and cheer on the other runners. Meg’s husband spent time responding to posts on the page this weekend from his wife’s Facebook profile
I have always said that this sport is about more than just running to me. Reading these stories and seeing the pictures posted online was such a testament to how big and wonderful the running community is. From Kel Kelly, collecting shoes to make a monument in honor of Meg to fellow runners visiting her memorial, it has always gone beyond running. Right now I am in Michigan, hundreds of miles from Virginia. But this weekend I could feel the outpouring of love just by reading these stories and seeing the pictures.
I have to think that of the 17,499 people in the Facebook group, the vast majority likely never actually knew Meg. But as we have come together since her passing, it goes beyond physical meetings. The love we share for this sport and the respect we have for anyone who works to achieve their goals brings us together in a very special way. It is an unbreakable bond, that perhaps non-runners might not be able to understand.
Congratulations to everyone who ran in Richmond this past weekend. And a special thank you to everyone who came to cheer on the runners. I sure wish I could have been there to experience the running love. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who has run miles in honor of Meg and her family. You are all incredible and should be so proud of yourselves.
Did you notice that #MegsMiles can be read as Meg’ Miles or Meg Smiles? Pretty cool!