Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Running the Good Race

Running the Good Race
Dcn. Dale Matson
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1 NIV).
After a period of spiritual renewal the Lord revealed to me in a gentle way that my drinking, smoking and obesity were not the marks of an ambassador of His kingdom. It was a personal revelation and I don’t intend to generalize beyond that. At age 42 and at 235 pounds, I began walking a mile a day and then two miles with a goal to run a mile. One thing led to another and eventually I completed a marathon. This kind of training requires discipline, patience and focus. The byproduct is weight loss and a sense that most goals can be reached if one is willing to persevere. Many will attest that completing a marathon is a life changing event that transfers to other aspects of one’s life. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about me is that I am so ordinary. What I have accomplished has always required God’s help.
For those like me who believe that everything worth doing is worth overdoing, I discovered that there is also what is called “Ultramarathons”. These are distances of 50 Kilometers, 50 miles, 100 Kilometers, 100 miles and beyond. Perhaps the dream of most marathoners is to run the Boston Marathon but for folks who run Ultramarathons, The Western States 100 mile endurance run is what is referred to as the Holy Grail of endurance runs. The trail begins in North Lake Tahoe and finishes 100 miles away in Auburn CA. Like Boston, one must successfully complete another qualifying event first but there is also a selection lottery too. Not everyone who qualifies is selected.
The training requires absolute dedication with months of trail running in the mountains and 100 mile weeks. I also biked and cross country skied to build endurance and avoid injuries associated with too many running miles per week. The cutoff for the event is 30 hours. In 2001, I finished in 29 hours and 17 minutes on my third try following two previous failures in 1994 and 1995. Needless to say, it was the hardest thing I have ever done.
My life goal continues to with God’s help, to run the good race. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. “ (2nd Timothy 4:7).

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