Dr. Ron Allen, senior professor of Bible Exposition, took part in the 2011 Portland Marathon. When asked to share a little about how long he's been running marathons and his experience this year, this was his jovial reply:
First, I am not a runner. The thought of running makes me sick. Ha.
I am not an athlete. I began road bicycling and long-distance walking in 1989 when I was rushing quickly to the age of 50. I felt that if I did not begin exercising soon I never would. At that time I never dreamed that I would still be doing both more than twenty years later, but cycling and walking are now very much a part of my life.
I can walk. I can walk fast and long.
I took part in the Portland (OR) Marathon on 9 October 2011.
The Portland Marathon is the one big-city marathon that does not simply tolerate walkers but encourages them. The city keeps the course open long enough for walkers to complete the full 26.2 mile course. So, unlike other marathons, there is a special registration that is just for walkers. We are grouped together at the start so that we do not impede the progress of the runners. These days everyone wears a chip on his or her shoe laces so that precise timings may be given for each entrant no matter whether running or walking. This year there were over 8500 people who completed the marathon, over 3000 did so as walkers.
I have completed the Portland Marathon as a walker eight times, the last before this one was in 2005. My goal time in the past has been 6 hours.
I know, I know, but this is walking. My best time ever was 5:54 where I was number 209 out of over 900 walkers.
This year I celebrated my 70th birthday and desired to do the marathon again. My goal in 2005 was 6 hours 30 minutes; I came in just under that. This year my goal was more modest, to complete it in under seven hours. I loaded my iPhone with Mozart Piano Concerti and was motivated by glorious music all along the way.
At mile 25 (where the picture was taken) we were stunned to find that a train blocked the route. There was no walking around, over or under. Those who arrived when I did were stuck for twelve minutes (almost the time for a mile). It was so troubling.
When the train finally moved, I could barely walk. It took me three blocks to get back up to speed. So I was stunned to learn as I crossed the finish line that my time was 6 hours 59 minutes 10 seconds. Ha.
I laughed and laughed that despite the delay by train I still got in just under seven hours. Then came the "rewards"–space blanket, medal, a rose (it is Portland) and all manner of food and drink.
The hard thing was to walk the three blocks after the finish line (and all of the hoopla booths) to where Beverly would pick me up.
So I have already made plans for next year. I want to get back to 6 hours and 30 minutes as a goal. Perhaps then I will miss the train.
A marathon is a remarkable for two reasons. First, there are a real athletes who are able to compete on a very high level on a very long course. Second, there are lots of very ordinary people such as I who are able to do something we each believe to be extraordinary, the completion of a long course, based on training and determination. I am grateful to the Lord that I am still able to do these events.
. . . One more thing. I found that of the 8461 people who completed the Portland Marathon (runners and walkers) there were only 28 who were in my age range: 70-74 years old. I came in near the last of these, number 24. Ha.
So, be not impressed that I finished; be astonished that I even began. Ha.