Finding inspiration at the back of the pack

Thank you, Tom R. You don’t know me, but you inspired me with your half marathon performance in the challenging Black Bear Half Marathon last week. You covered 1000′ of elevation in the hilly White Mountain region of New Hampshire and completed the entire 13.1 mile course with fierce determination. I’m sorry that I wasn’t there for you at the finish line.

Black Bear Half Marathon

My wife Tina and I finished our race, changed our clothes, replenished our fuel supply at the refreshment tables, and received our awards before heading back to the car. Wanting a photo to document the occasion, we found a runner willing to take our picture just before we left. It wasn’t until days later that we realized Tom was in the picture still running his race.

The thing is, we talked about his race several times before that point. The course was an ‘out and back’ style affair. The kind of course that allows you to see every other runner in the race as you pass within a few feet of each other. We both remembered him. We were humbled by his efforts and respected his fortitude and his grit.


I don’t know Tom. I’m not even sure if that’s his name. But, I know that he inspired me to give a little more that day. And, if you are reading this post, maybe his performance has inspired you as well. Every person that toes the line is a runner. Every runner has his or her own race to run. Inspiration and admiration are found in each of their stories.

6 thoughts on “Finding inspiration at the back of the pack

  1. Tom is awesome, and most definitely inspiring. Since I’m a newbie runner myself, I must say I’ve been impressed with the running community, very supporting and non-judgmental! I love it!

  2. I’m a Tomette myself. I did a full marathon after training from zero to 26.2. It took me a year and I had to go onto chemo medication while in training to delay a necessary surgery. 6 hours of my life that I controlled. There was a lady who took 7.5 hours to finish, but finish she did. Toeing that line, and doing it is a promise made to yourself. I wish everyone would acknowledge that the TIME DOES NOT MATTER, doing it DOES!

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