When you’ve known someone as long as I’ve known Artie, when you see them accomplish something like this, it’s special. 2017’s Ragnar Relay, our last year in Chicago, featured some moments that were definitely special.
Leading up to the race, we had an opening pop up late in our preparations. Artie, who’d helped by driving in the past decided that he’d fill one of those spots so that he could be a part of the team. I loved the idea because he talked about wanting to run because he’d seen us do it and wanted to be a bigger part of the team. I promised not to load him up with too many miles since we were shorter on time and he’d never run a race of any type before so tackling a Ragnar definitely stepping outside of his comfort zone.
Fast forward about a month and we had another opening pop up and Jenn took that spot. She hadn’t run in nearly 10 years as she’d had our little ones during that span. He volunteered to let her take his spot with the easiest legs of the race and he’d take the next easiest. So we shuffled the deck slightly and pointed everything towards the race.
There was one problem though…because of a change of work, Artie had little time to train. In fact, by the time the race came, he may have only run/walked a few miles. You could argue that having a runner who’d never even run a 5k with only about that total mileage take the spot was crazy or that he was crazy. Part of it was a combination of both but we had a good conversation about it and agreed that we’d take it one run at a time. I told him that I didn’t care about speed and that I just didn’t want him to get hurt. We figured out how we’d break it down if he could only do 1 leg of the race and how we could cover the other two and he said he’d see what he could do and let us know after the first one.
It was still crazy but what happened during that race was amazing to me and it’s why I’ve rated his story and determination as our #2 moment or memory of our races. He ran every mile. He toed the line, took the baton, and ran.ever.last.mile.
He didn’t have to at all. What it came down to, though, was that he made a commitment to the team and he wasn’t going to go back on that. We gave him an out. We actually gave him multiple outs and he never took them.
I remember one leg specifically. The elevation map made it seem like it was flat but that was incorrect. It might have netted out to a negative gain but that road, including a crossing of a busy intersection was anything but flat. It was an all out roller coaster for about 4 miles. At one point, we stopped to cheer him on and then went up the hill to the finish and waited for him and we waited awhile and wasn’t sure he was ok. Someone drove back and he was still chugging and told us to meet him up there and that he’d be there as soon as possible. He never gave up.
The determination and grit he displayed that weekend choked me up then and it wasn’t because he was overcoming an injury or beat a PR and was proud of himself and us for him. It was that he looked everyone in the eye that weekend and followed through with that commitment when he didn’t have to out of care for us so that we’d not overextend ourselves. As a friend, it meant a lot, and despite not truly being ready to go and the worry I had for him and how we were going to pull it off at the beginning, everything worked because he wasn’t going to let us down. It was incredible and I will never forget the effort he put in that weekend.