10K-a-day Day 8: The accidental marathon

Usually my Saturday mornings begin with a trip down to the local park, as is the case with many runners today. However, I had to forgo my beloved parkrun today because I needed to be away by 8:30 to attend the annual Assembly of the Yorkshire Baptist Association, a gathering of church people from across Yorkshire. I therefore went out for an early morning 10K, taking in my local parkrun route on the way, having the whole park to myself.

I attended the Assembly in my capacity as a part of the leadership team of my local church. We go to be informed, encouraged and motivated. Today though, I was pleasantly surprised by a running story told by the key-note speaker (Ken Benjamin). He told the story of a woman who had run a marathon by accident, thinking she was starting a 10K and this story stuck with me so much, that I looked it up on the Internet as soon as I got home this afternoon.

It happened in 1990 and the runner was a 42 year-old woman called Georgene Johnson, who had entered a 10K event which was to be run alongside the Revco- Cleveland Marathon. Previously, the maximum distance she had run was 8 miles. Now the Marathon started 15 minutes earlier than the 10K but Georgene, arriving early, ended up on the Marathon start line without realising it.

Fairly early on, by the route taken she could tell something was wrong and after asking fellow runners she was horrified to learn she was in the wrong race! After failing to find any means to get back to the start, she simply carried on and finding she could carry on, decided to keep going. Eventually, she completed the 26.2 miles in a staggering time of only 4 hours 2 minutes!

She is reported to have said, after she had realised there was no way out: “This isn’t the race I trained for. This isn’t the race I entered, but for better or worse, this is the race I’m in.”

The moral of the story is that we can’t always choose the circumstances that God puts us in, but we are called to do whatever we can in those circumstances and by embracing them we can do great things. I think this is both an inspiring running story and also has a great life lesson with a much wider context.

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

Richard is running 10K every day during June, to raise money for a public access defibrillator to be situated at Rothwell Baptist Church.  To sponsor him and make a donation, please visit his Just Giving Page.

Author: MarathonMannUK

Deacon at Rothwell Baptist Church, IT Solutions Architect at Fujitsu, Distance Runner with Rodillian Runners. Expect blogs on all of these themes!

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