My fiancé has run the NYC marathon five times. A few years ago she introduced me to her favorite part of the event: Finish Line After Dark.
Long after the sun has set and the runners have drifted off to celebrate with their families or collapse onto their hotel beds, there are still a few souls out there struggling somewhere in the darkness.
The shouting crowds lining the sidewalks have all gone home. The police have reopened the streets to traffic. It’s Sunday night and most people are thinking about work on Monday. But these forgotten runners are still in the race. Only they know why. They’re exhausted, sometimes injured, and often alone.
But then they appear—a silhouette in the lamplight. Finally, Central Park. Some, sadly, are battling a terminal disease. Others are battling themselves. Still others are fulfilling a promise to a deceased loved one, now a name scrawled on their shirt. These are regular people. But they still race. They FINISH the race… 26.2 miles. We cheer them on as they approach the end. Some from our small crowd run to help them stagger across the finish line.
But everyone is joyful, because here—in all of this pain—no one is forgotten.