2500 years after the first person ran from Marathon to Athens, bearing news of victory, I seized the opportunity to retrace his path with 12,499 of my closest running friends (lol). Thankfully, unlike that first runner, none of us dropped dead. Rather, we celebrated completion in the Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece.
At the start, a race announcer spun up the crowd like they do at many races: “You are a part of history! There is a great medal waiting for you at the finish line!” Under the golden beauty of sunrise over the sea, the words echoed in my mind, “They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable”1. Here, where spectators lining the course handed competitors the very branches used to make those perishable wreaths, I considered the transience of this race, of this life. Like a physical weight on my heart, I felt the emptiness of the announcer’s words.
The marathon, like few other races, teaches much about endurance. During the race, time seemed to crawl (it resembled my pace!) but I know from experience that all races, no matter how painful, are complete for a much longer time than one suffers during them. So I reflected: will I be satisfied later at with my effort now? Because I can never come back and change it.
And as I ponder that, I wonder, when I look back on my endurance, my performance, in this life, will I be satisfied as I stand on the brink of eternity? What do I need to change now, to know then that, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race”2?
1. 1 Cor 9:25
2. 2 Tim 4:7