We’ve all been there. You’re doing a race and you’re struggling. Maybe you didn’t hydrate well enough or get the right nutrition in you. Maybe you didn’t sleep well the night before or you are feeling a really nasty cramp or digestive issues. Maybe it’s none of these things and it’s just not one of your days. And suddenly, someone, maybe someone you don’t even know, will smile at you or offer you those words of encouragement. There’s no catch to it, no one looking for anything in return. And it makes all the difference.
Kindness Wins. It’s not just a saying or a way of life. It’s an organization, led by three amazing female sports champions, tennis great Madison Keys, alpine ski champion Mikaela Shiffrin and multi-Paralympic medalist Oksana Masters. Kindness Wins is a nonprofit committed to supporting and elevating acts of kindness in sports. Be sure to use #KindnessWinsDay and share your own stories.
May 20th has been declared Kindness Wins Day. This will be the 3rd annual event. Run Oregon wanted to share a few stories or moments of kindness they have seen in the sport of running. Here are just a few:
Blogger Nikki had these tidbits to offer:
I’ll never forget my first marathon. I was feeling really good until I got to mile 20, and as is often the case with long distances, the wheels began to fall off. I had stopped to walk and was throwing myself a pity party and doubting I’d be able to do it. My race bib had my name on it, and just when I felt like I was about to cry, someone from the sidelines who I hadn’t even noticed was there said, “Come on, Nikki. You can do this!” It was a simple thing and I doubt that person ever even knew the difference they had made. But at that moment, I needed it, and I picked up my feet a little higher and started to run again. I kept going, and I finished that race. I don’t know if I could have gone on alone.”
“I’m shocked by so many of the elite runners at Ultra Marathons that stick around to cheer all of the back of the pack runners into the finish. At one of my 50k races, the guy who won the race at least a solid hour before me was standing at the finish line, clapping and congratulating everyone coming in like they were rockstars. ”
“One time, I was on a long brutal trail run with friends and we got lost. We finally came near a road and ran into a guy who had just gotten out of his car with his dog. We described the section where our car was and he told us we were about 7 miles away. We had already run double digits and were exhausted, and he offered us a ride back to our car. In a normal situation, I wouldn’t get into a stranger’s car, but there were three of us and he had a dog, so that was all I needed to convince myself we were safe. He took us back to our car and really saved our bacon that day.
Fellow runner Robin has shared this story and says it’s one of the reasons she believed she could be a runner.
I started walking to improve my health in 2012. It was a huge milestone to walk a very hilly 5k – the Rad 80s Run. I was struggling with the hills near the end. A young female runner ran back from the finish to run in with others finishing later, cheering and shouting encouragement. She noticed me and asked if she could stick with me for a bit. She kept telling me how close I was to the end, encouraging me. When the finish was in sight, she said YOU ARE DOING GREAT, YOU GOT THIS! I started to run to the finish with all my heart. She cheered “LOOK AT YOU! We have a runner in the making here! You are going to be a runner!” In that moment, I thought “wow, she’s young and fast and strong and she believes I can run!” The kindness and acceptance, being welcomed by the running community after a lifetime of being sedentary and doubting my ability to do anything athletic meant the world to me. That was the last day I was a walker and I started to transition to running from that day forward. I have now run 9 half marathons and countless 5ks and 10ks. It all started with that act of kindness by a total stranger.
Runner Tiffany not only has a story of kindness, but another where she got to pay kindness forward:
I was out for a weekday morning run in my neighborhood, and it was getting to the end of my run (maybe 3-4 miles) I was all warmed up, flying on a downhill section of the sidewalk, really just cruising and having a fast run, and in the steepest section I tripped, flew through the air and had a horrible bloody landing in the concrete sidewalk. Then an older guy driving by (in a new, clean car, no mess) pulled over to ask if I was ok. I would normally try and muster through but there was blood all over my hands and knees. So I said yes, I could probably use some help getting home. Without flinching he helped me get in his car and took me home. Turns out he was the owner of a pastry shop nearby. And I ended up seeing him a number of times in the neighborhood. On top of it, this was my second week I had a new job, and I didn’t want to be late to work that morning, and I ended up putting all kinds of bandages all over my leg and hands and jumped on BART and went to work after it.”
“A few months after this happened, and I was healed, I went out for another morning run run and was heading towards that same hill section, but in the opposite direction on my way out. And as I came around the corner, I saw that a man had been hit on his bike and thrown off and was injured and laying in the road. I was a first responder, and ended up bandaging him up until the ambulance arrived. It was pretty gruesome to experience, and needless to say I didn’t run up that hill for about six months after.
Reilly had this story to share:
I was just getting into running and about a mile from my home I had a group of people step out in front of me on the sidewalk. I mean like literally I dont know where they came from but all of a sudden they were RIGHT in front of me – didn’t even look to see if someone was coming. I jumped to avoid running into them and in the parking strip was a big hole under the grass I couldn’t see. I jumped right into that hole – I crumpled, twisted my ankle, skinned up my knee, everything. It happened so fast I was in shock. AND THOSE PEOPLE STILL DIDNT STOP OR OFFER TO HELP. They clearly saw me fall. UGH, IT MAKES ME MAD THINKING ABOUT IT! But, another runner came up behind me, knelt down, checked on me, helped me up, gave me some TP. At the time I was like ‘why do they have TP with them on a run??’ Then I found distance running and one day understood… haha! Anyway, this guy who was probably 50 or so helped me up and kept offering to get me home. I said ‘no no’ because I can’t stand anyone helping me (big flaw of mine) – but he INSISTED. I was so glad he did. As soon as we went a few blocks I just started to cryyyyyyyy. I wasnt really hurting, it was just shock and anger I think at those people. He walked the whole mile+ home with me in the middle of his run. We talked about everything. His family, my family, animals, our mutual dislike for ketchup, everything. And TO THIS DAY we keep in touch. We email periodically or Instagram message. It was just such a chance thing to happen. Something bad turned into so much good. We’ve run into each other at races a couple of times since we’re both still in the PNW. Runners are a family. Everyone I meet immediately becomes a part of my community – no matter if they are 3 minutes away, 3 hours away, or 3000 miles away.
I’m a big believer in Karma. Put good into the world, and it will come back to you. You never really know whose lives you’re making an impact on, and in this case, kindness really does win.