Free & Fit in LBI - 18 Mile Run - by Lynne Cucco - Sunday, October 6, 2018
No one likes LBI summers to end, so this beach community stretches its’ summer season by offering fall activities that will gather people of all ages and stages of life. The Long Beach Island Commemorative 18-Mile Run is one such activity. In order for me to extend my summer, I was definitely going to join my daughter Liza and her husband Tim for an October beach weekend down the shore. I didn’t know much about this race but read that it was created to honor the 11 Israeli athletes who were slain by terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics and also to commemorate the thousands who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. The race was sponsored by St. Francis Community Center in Brant Beach, New Jersey and the LBI Jewish Community Center in Long Beach Township, New Jersey. In addition to the LBI 18 Miler, the island was also hosting a Kite Festival, which meant that towering above a portion of the race course could be countless kites of all shapes and sizes. Tim enjoys a prolific audience, so he welcomed this great cloud of witnesses to cheer him for him during the race, which he was running as a precursor to something bigger, the Atlantic City Marathon on October 21, 2018.
Tim joined 566 other runners for a race that began at the southern point of the island and ending at its furthest point north. Tim, a conditioned runner, started his race in the middle of the pack of runners and quickly positioned himself in 7th place for the first half of the race. Liza and I were able to drive alongside the race course on Long Beach Boulevard, often shadowing Tim with honks and screams as we glimpsed his familiar stride. Along the route, we could read the names of the 11 athletes who lost their lives at the Munich Olympics, posted on the mile markers of this run; a poignant and meaningful gesture. Remarkably, Tim remained steady in the 7th position for the entire run, fending off fatigue, thoughts of stopping, and overheating. His run was focused and purposeful.
While watching Tim run along the boulevard as a well-oiled machine, I thought about Jesus’ teaching in Luke 14:28 where He explains that before building a “tower”, one must “count the cost” or make a purposeful plan in order to finish with success. This portion of scripture can be metaphoric for the building of Christian character as represented by the word use “tower”. Within our own, “walk”, not “run”, with the Lord, Jesus is our reference point and our goal throughout the race of life. Our focus must stay aimed toward Him as he perfects our faith. It takes a concerted effort in order to build a healthy relationship with the Lord, often requiring us to suppress the distractors in life that could route us off course. As we gain confidence in our “walk”, we then become well equipped to “run” the race that has been marked out before us. This imagery is clearly portrayed in Hebrews 12: 1 where the writer says, “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.” Tim demonstrated this kind of concerted effort and perseverance throughout the race until he crossed the finish line, greeted by the cheers and applause of those of us gathered around him.
The LBI Commemorative race and the LBI Kite Festival tandemly formed a backdrop for a special day. We witnessed a conditioned Christian athlete run an earthly race set before him with steady and focused purpose. We couldn’t miss the many kites joining the “Great Cloud of Witnesses” acting as spectators cheering on the runners. We saw runners finish their race to receive renewed breath instead of weakness. And in reflection of this commemorative race, I thought about the number 11, recalling that this number’s scriptural meaning is “discipled”. Runners cannot complete a race without being disciplined in their training. As Christians, we are daily discipled by Jesus Christ with our course set and a focused goal to cross the finish line in order to hear an applause from God himself saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Lynne Cucco is a Special Educational Teacher, Writer, Poet, Blogger, Mother, Wife and Disciple of Jesus Christ. Follow Lynne on Facebook
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