On Sunday I ran the 2015 Grand Rapids Half-Marathon. Compared to the marathon I ran a year before, it was a breeze. I felt amazing until mile 12 when I suddenly hit a wall and had a sharp pain in my side. But I pushed through it and it went away after half a mile. I felt great sprinting down the chute to the finish line. I finished in 1:34 for a mile time of about 7:15. Way better than my 8:22 mile time for the marathon. The half-marathon was a great personal feat, setting a PR. Like many others, I could have just shown up, ran the race, set a personal record, went home, and started training for the next race, a monotonous cycle. But I took a different route.
This other route is the only reason I would of considered running a marathon in the spring of 2014. It is the only reason I stuck it out through the long, grueling runs every morning at 6am. The only reason I trained all summer, every morning. The reason? Clean water.
You see, in other parts of the world, one cannot simply turn on a faucet and pure, clean water comes streaming through instantly. There are no in-house sinks, bathrooms, showers, or any kind of plumbing. This is particularly a problem in Africa. Many women and children in Africa have to spend 4-6 hours EVERY DAY walking to get water. Imagine what you do in 4-6 hours. School? Work? Workout? Tidy the house? Play? Be a kid, mom, or dad? Now take that away. That whole 4-6 hour time period is swallowed up. It is spent walking for dirty, feces-infested, water. Not only are Africans wasting half of their day walking for water, the water they are getting is killing them. The child mortality rate in Africa is 50%.
So, how does this massive problem of a lack of clean water tie into running a marathon or half-marathon? Well you see, there is this amazing organization called Team World Vision (TWV). TWV is striving to end the world water problem in our lifetime. So, TWV goes around to major cities around the country that do a marathon and organizes a team to run the marathon to fundraise to bring clean water to Africa. 2014 was their first year in Grand Rapids.
This year 361 people ran the 2015 Grand Rapids Marathon and Half-Marathon with Team World Vision and raised enough money to provide 4,600 people with clean water FOR LIFE!! Personally, I raised $640 to provide 13 people with clean water FOR LIFE!!! Although that is far less than my goal of $2,600.20, it still changes 13 lives FOREVER. I regret not putting more time into fundraising and getting this movement out there. In fact, if my egg-celent wording has convicted you to do something about this water problem, you can donate to my page here. Just kidding, it’s not about me. It’s all about God and caring for those who are made in His image.
That, my friends, is why I ran 13.1 miles on Sunday, October 18, 2015. Not for myself. Not for a PR. Not for the recognition. Not to be healthy. In short, I run because they walk.