Since it was December and the start of holiday season, beautiful long strands of green, white and red lights hung down from tall trees proving dazzling lighting as dusk turned into dark. The air was full of holiday tunes and Mexican songs sung by a boys and girls musical group. Deb and I were both thankful to experience Texas for the first time together – a state both of us had not visited yet. If the atmosphere was a foreshadowing of the fun to come, we would have known this 261 Fearless event would be special.
The San Antonio Rock and Roll event began Friday morning with a flashy start when a samba band and two dancers dressed in gold and purple sashayed to the stage to warm up the crowed before introducing some rock stars of running including 261Fearless’ own Kathrine Switzer. Called to the stage were 2015 Boston Marathon Men’s Winner Meb Keflezighi, two time Olympian marathoner Desiree Linden and American long distance runner Sarah Crouch. The crowd was thick listening to the running stars and eager to enter the Expo after the speeches. Kathrine shared the origins of 261 Fearless as the audience erupted in applause.
The 261 Fearless Expo Booth welcomed many visitors including a collection of 100 women interested in joining our Train the Trainer programs in Dallas, Chicago and Boston in 2018, signing up for our newsletter or becoming a new “Fearless Friend.” We also greeted our 261 Fearless Rock and Roll running team of 14 women including one special 11 year old girl named “Rosie” who had written a paper on Kathrine Switzer and decided to run on our team to meet her. This girl was a spark of energy and joy. She made a few eyes tear up when she jumped for pure joy when she first encountered Kathrine.
The 5K and 10K races started on Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. blocks away from the iconic “Alamo.” 261 Fearless camerawoman Rosy Sparker was ready to videotape our run on Facebook Live and Boston Athletic Association Past President Joann Flamino joined us as the new 261 Fearless Advocate. With our new purple running shirts on, we started off through the streets. I ran behind little Rosie at times telling her I was running better in her tale winds! It was the truth having not run for 4 months due to a hip injury.
As I lost sight of my team, I remembered Kathrine’s wise words, “Running is about putting one foot in front of the other - no matter what your ability until you finish the race.” I was doing that as I lost my “group” happily letting them finish together triumphantly. Around the two and a half mile mark, I saw Meb Keflezighi running down our street slapping hands and telling us to keep running. He almost missed my hand but slowed down and came back to slap it! I thought “Okay Tracy let’s get this ole’ hip of yours to the finish line since Meb inspired you!”
At the finish line I found my “family of purple sisters” waiting for me. We hugged and decided to walk a block to the iconic Alamo to take a group photo. How could we not do that? We were running together in Texas!
Later that evening we joined together in celebration for dinner in a beautiful restaurant along the River Walk with an original Train-the-Trainer Mary T. Callaghan of Houston Texas who Deb and I hadn’t seen since first meeting her, Kathrine and each other in October 30, 2015. Mary operates the Greater Houston Girls on the Run. We all shared Mexican food and drinks and listened to Kathrine and Joann inspire us. Our runners were gifted with small tokens of appreciation for their fundraising efforts and we all hugged good bye since the half and marathon runners had to run the next morning.
As the sun set over the River Walk with the twinkling lit trees as if to say, “Hope ya’ll had a great time,” we departed happy to have run together with new fearless friends from another part of America, hoping we meet again soon in another great city together with our new national and international friends. This is the true “spirit” of 261 Fearless! I can’t wait to meet more incredible women in 2018!
Written by Tracy Higginbotham