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Cheering on runners helps fill their spirit

Columnist Loren Else says a morning cheering on my daughter-in-law showed me how much support means to people achieving their goals.

Boomer Grandpa — Loren Else column sig
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The competition was intense in the Scheels Healthy Human Half Marathon Race held recently in Rochester. It was a nice Saturday morning for running as the half-marathon race started at 7 a.m. I was right in the middle of it – well, sort of, along with my son – we were cheering on his wife.

I’ve never been much of a runner, although I did run the mile in high school … over five decades ago. During my softball career, a friend gave me the nickname “Speed Buggy.” I believe he was being sarcastic. That nickname was a bit harsh if you ask me.

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Sorry, got off track (pun intended). My daughter-in-law and son drove down from their home in Bemidji for the race. She is a member of the 50 States Half Marathon Club. Yep, her goal is to run a half-marathon in all 50 states.

My son said Michigan is next on her list, which will be state number 16 and half-marathon number 23. She’s been running for three years and loves it. She enjoys the challenge, has goals and feels a sense of accomplishment after each race. She loves the people she has met in this endeavor.

My son knew the ins and outs of spouse support, and for the race, he picked out a few spots to wait for her to run by, cheering and clapping for her and others. We posted ourselves at Mayo High School, Bear Creek Park, and the finish line.

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My son has a collection of T-shirts, and the one he had on that Saturday had the words “Runner’s Husband" and a host of clever sayings like, "No, I don’t know when she’ll be home." He wears them proudly, and a few runners spotted his T-shirt and gave him a thumbs up.

I sensed that as runners passed us, our clapping was appreciated and even acknowledged at times. The people cheering for friends and family clearly made a difference to the runners.

I really felt this emotion at the finish line. As runners came down the home stretch after 13.1 miles, they were loudly cheered. Most smiled and finished with an impressive kick. Each runner had completed a remarkable accomplishment that day.

There were many meaningful meetings as runners crossed the line. One man was joined by his young daughter as he finished. The little girl had a smile on her face as she ran alongside her dad.

I thought I would "dig a little deeper" as they say, so I contacted a former co-worker who I know is running races regularly. Jayde Brokken started running when he turned 60. Dropping 40 pounds as he trained gave him a boost. His daughters conned him into his first half-marathon, and he found himself back for more.

Jayde told me everyone has their own reasons for running. His is maintaining his health and showing his family that anything is possible if you give it your all.

Jayde’s significant other is Gwen Jacobson, who is a superstar in the running world. Gwen won the 2019 Minnesota Runner of the Year for Women 60-64. She has been the focus of several articles.

Her accomplishments are jaw-dropping. Gwen has completed marathons in all 50 states. She has run in London and marathons in Berlin and Tokyo are on her schedule to complete the six World Majors. Gwen finished first in the Boston Marathon in her age category. She is approaching her goal of 100 marathons before she turns 65.

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Running changed Gwen’s life. It gives her time to think and remove herself from the electronic world. She loves to compete and enjoys her surroundings and nature while on the trail.

Cheering friends and family energize Gwen. To her, family, and friends hugging you and celebrating your accomplishment and that medal around your neck: There is no better feeling.

To Gwen and Jayde, the community of runners is family. They support, encourage, and celebrate each other every step of the way.

I’m glad I was there that morning, cheering on my daughter-in-law and others. I saw so many smiles as runners crossed the finish line.

Loren Else lives in Rochester and also writes the Post Bulletin’s “Day in History” column. Send comments and column ideas to Loren at news@postbulletin.com .

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