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Imagine a boy who loves to run. Loves to feel the wind in his face and the power in his legs. Every day the dirt calls his name. He laces up his shoes and lets the world melt away.

Running is fun. It’s cathartic. It’s competitive. It’s who he is. This is my boy, the runner.

Every Wednesday we watch him shine. Some weeks he’s faster than others. Yesterday he shaved off a few extra seconds from his previous time. Every second counts.

The kids hated the course at this latest meet. The best I could get out of Gavin and Avalon was that it was flat and boring. A cute little Asian grandma was walking by with a confused look on her face. She started asking questions out loud hoping anyone would answer. She lived in the neighborhood and wondered why there were so many cars. What was going on at the school? Do the kids just have to run around the field?

I explained to her that it was a Cross Country meet for schools in three different cities. I also tried to explain the course as best as I could make it out from where I was stationed. I was closer to the beginning than I realized and it was hard to tell how far back the kids ran before coming back around for a second lap. Parker was content in the shade of a tree reading in a chair until Gavin’s race. Gwen made friends with all the other kids on the playground. She did come by for Gavin’s race and cheered loudly. The grandma realized we had a runner in the race. She was impressed by the athletes. We chatted easily for a few minutes. Soon she walked back home.

Heath called me some time after I saw Miles running with his dad. The course extended much further than I thought because I heard Heath yell to the kids around him, “Go bring Miles home!” I thought he had already finished. It was sad to not be close enough to see the unconditional love of a team running Miles home again.

The amazing stories don’t stop with Miles.

Imagine a boy who loves to run. Loves to feel the wind in his face and the power in his legs. Every day the dirt calls his name.

He laces up his shoes and lets the world melt away. There is a freedom in running. As he loses himself to the rhythm of his feet, a blue strap grasped in his hand is the only difference between this boy and the other runners.

He can’t see. He runs alongside a teammate or an adult with a blue strap between them. I noticed him last week running with the same man pictured here. Last week I was near the end of the race. The man told the boy when to start sprinting. It wasn’t like the other coaches screaming encouragement. It was gentler, certainly quieter. The man (coach? Dad?) spoke as if they were the only two people on earth. He was the boy’s eyes. I’m sure he talked the boy through the curve in the track because what I heard was him saying the track had straightened out. Telling the boy to sprint was more of a suggestion like when kids are playing with no agenda. “Now let’s run hard!” Wings sprouted from their heels and off they flew.

Everyone has something that speaks to their soul. Some dance, some sing, some pour their heart out with paint on a canvas. Others run. It calls to them, shapes them, teaches them, but above all it fulfills them. Regardless of size, shape, speed or even an ability to see. The call is too strong to ignore. So they run.

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