As I mentioned last week, Tateyama runners will join us this weekend for the Bellingham Bay Marathon.

They’ve arrived!

Friday night, two runners, ages 27 and 59, flew into the Vancouver Airport. We had dinner with our very tired visitors at Boundary Bay Brewery that first night and then took Toshio and Yasu to the DeCann House, a beautiful bed and breakfast in town run by Barbara and Van Hudson, Tateyama enthusiasts.

Today we drove the marathon and half marathon courses, got together with several friends for a pasta potluck and then sent our guests to bed to get a good night’s rest for the big day tomorrow.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been organizing, recruiting translators, sending out invitations and dreaming up fun Bellingham activities. But in the midst of all of my chart-making and emailing, I never forget what started my involvement in the Bellingham Sister Cities Association in the first place: The Marathon.

Tomorrow morning at 7am Bill and our one young runner, Yasu, will start that 26.2-mile journey, not knowing if the sky will pour on them or if they will turn an ankle or get a cramp half way through. They don’t know if anyone will be stationed along the route to cheer for them (besides me) or if they will hit a psychological wall so hard to push through it makes them cry.

I never cease to have respect for The Marathon and for those who run it, either once or hundreds of times. Tomorrow I won’t be running because I’m tapering in preparation for the Portland Marathon in a couple of weeks. This gives me the chance to plant myself somewhere on the course, clap for the runners until my hands are numb and watch their faces. Some will be elated, some anguished, others peaceful and Zen-like. I’ve been all of those things at some point in a race.

I’ll be watching carefully for a few particular runners, this time. To Yasu and Bill in the full marathon and to Julie, Toshio and Ellen in the half marathon: GAMBATE! Do your best (in Japanese). I’ll see you at the finish line, and we’ll share a beer to celebrate your elation, your anguish, your Zen mind, or whatever came up during the race.

Ready, set. GO!

PS: If you’re so inclined, take a look at the marathon course and come out to cheer the runners along!

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