There are dozens of memorable moments that happen during a race, they are as unique as the people competing in the event. It could be a great mile, a smile from a volunteer at the right time, a sign from a family member to lift your spirits, the potential list is endless.
For Simon Bairu and Amy Yoder, it's pretty safe to say that their definable moment was breaking the tape in Sundays' Shamrock Shuffle as the mens and woman's winners.
Begley did it in 26:50, the fastest woman's time since 2006. Bairu, who was running in his Chicago racing debut broke the tape in 23:38( before some of the later corrals were getting started).
For me, I have two. The first was getting the opportunity to run with my wife. She has never run this distance before and to be able to travel along with her on this journey was one of the best experiences at an event, I have ever had. As an added bonus, it was also much more pleasurable to kiss her than Cubicle Dad at the finish line(sorry buddy).
The second moment happened before the race in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel and it's still with me now as I write this. It was with the men and women of the Chicago Police Department and the 400 runners supporting the CPD, all running in memory of the fallen officers, who have served our city.
I have written a lot about this and I will continue to write about it, but it didn't sink in until we all gathered around and officer Rhonda Anderson introduced the families of some of the fallen officers. There were men, women, boys and girls, right there in front of me, all with one thing in common, they have lost a member of their family to violence. We were there to honor and remember their moms and dads, people we will never meet and they will never see again.
There are no words to truly explain the looks of sadness and loss in their eyes. As we had a moment of silence for these fallen heroes, I said a silent prayer for these strangers who had touched me so deeply. I wanted to throw my arms around them and say something to take the pain away. I looked into the eyes of a little boy whose father had been killed and hoped that this moment, with all of these people around him, sending him and all of them their love and energy would somehow help fill that massive void, even if just for a few seconds.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with the families of these fallen heroes, it became abundantly clear that the word hero, isn't enough. They will never run through the streets, they will never kiss their kids goodnight, they will never cheer for the Cubs, enjoy a beef, a hug from their children or a kiss from their wife as they cross the finish line together. They are now memories, preserved in pictures and stories, they are a part of the history of our city and I will always be eternally grateful.
The moment of silence ended, we raised our shot glasses (Jameson in some, water in others) and toasted the fallen. There were smiles, tears and a lot of people there to show their support, and then it was over. We were off to run, through the streets they died to protect, past their colleagues, keeping the streets clear for us to run.
The Run to Remember is Saturday, April 30 and there are plenty of slots open. If you run, walk, bike, sleep, eat, drive, live, breathe in Chicago, then this is a great opportunity to say thank you to men and women who are out there right now, and a way to honor those who have passed in keeping us safe.
Below are a few shots of the 'Toast to the CPD," as well as the rest of the action from a great 2011 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle.
Click here to register for The Run to Remember.