Thursday, August 2, 2012

Stepping, Running, and Marching

Our friend Roma has been raising money through her Girl Scout troupe for Stepping Stones International, a charity in Botswana for kids and teens  -- very often AIDS orphans -- so we helped her put together a little unofficial invite-only 5K in Sugar House Park last weekend. [Thanks for anyone reading this who came out to run in the heat, and thanks a ton to Roma and Tom and Maria for all their work and for the brilliant prizes.] The best prize -- won by Margaret (friend and psych grad student) -- was a signed picture of Valerie Bertenelli, in the category of oldest t-shirt worn. Jason won the overall race, which was impressive, given he runs mainly trail ultramarathons and those were probably his first three 5K-pace miles on the pavement in years. If I were not so high-minded, I would list excuses for why Jason beat me (e.g., it's all John's fault for that hike the day before; I had beers the night before, watching the opening ceremonies,** which I never do the night before a race; my racing flats are in KS; I left my sunglasses at John and Sarah's house and the sun was brutal; I'm training for a marathon and thus not doing a lot of speed work and unable to rest properly), but I'm simply not going to because a) this day was all about helping a great charity and getting to do a race with Jeanine and friends and b) no one would know I'm kidding. Actually, I'm pretty stoked to lose by only 23 seconds to a kickass ultra runner who's finished top-30 in the Wasatch 100, and I'm also happy to note that my time was only 4 seconds slower than the 5K run the same day by rising US cross-country skiing star Jessie Diggins at a race at Hildene, the beautiful estate and gardens built by Abe Lincoln's son in Manchester, Vermont, which we visited on our recent trip ...

But obviously I digress. Seriously, if you've been looking for a new charity to support, Stepping Stones is fully vetted and entirely worthwhile. Please check it out:

** Speaking of the Opening Ceremonies, what did you think? Jeanine and I were pretty much panning it from the start -- look, I'm an historian, but that doesn't mean I think depicting the Industrial Revolution through interpretive dance makes for good TV -- so we were surprised that the reviews were even mixed (though NPR called it "cluttered" and "disorganized"). There was one part I loved, however -- when the actors/dancers/real nurses? spelled out the initials "NHS" for Britain's National Health Service. Celebrating a state agency in a large stadium? Was that added at the last minute by the "unprepared" organizers just to rub it in Romney's nose? I mean, can you imagine anything more preposterous than Americans doing such a thing? Or ... wait a second ...

Answer: The LSU marching band -- the South! -- celebrating the New Deal's Works Progress Administration (a good picture to consider the next time you want to blame Obama for not being FDR). BTW, you can find this image in my friend Chris Loss's excellent history of higher education in modern America:

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