A Place to Belong

What did running give you that you couldn't have gotten any other way? 
It gave me a place to belong -Ben Comen

First Rockies game!
One of the things I have always loved most about trail running is the sense of community. It's an eclectic group of people to say the least. In high school it was often a collection of those who had been cut from other sports or who were maybe not quite coordinated enough for other sports. There were also those whose parents were runners or who had somehow gotten hooked at an early age. I pretty much fell into all of these categories. I'm short, awkward and far from graceful. 

This sense of community is also why a part of me really hopes James likes running as much as Dan and I do. Every track or cross country team I have been a part of has been a group of some of the most accepting people I've ever met. You often had to beg other members of my tennis teams to cheer for each other, but with runners it was never even a question. Everyone had already gathered at the finish line or sporadically throughout the course to cheer for each other. I always felt at home on the track team, like I belonged. 

When I first heard the story about Ben Comen I couldn't help but cry as I watched his video. I watched him struggle, I watched him never give up and I watched him succeed. I watched the way his team embraced him. He wasn't just the water boy, he was an essential part of the team. I'll never forget this story and often think about Ben when I think of James' future. Whether James runs or not is up to him, but I want to give him the opportunity to be a part of a team, to participate, just like Ben did. I don't want James to have to just sit on the sideline and watch others. I want him to be in the action.

Like any mom I worry about James. I worry he won't be accepted. I worry that others will make fun of him. And I know Down syndrome or not at some point someone will make fun of him. I don't want to push running on him, but I hope he finds a sense of belonging like I have found in the trail running community. And I am hopeful the trail running community will accept him just as it accepted me. 

I also can't just be hopeful. Being hopeful didn't teach James to walk, being hopeful hasn't improved his communication skills. If I want others to accept James I have to be accepting as well. My life experiences have introduced me to a community I never thought I would be a part of. I never thought I would be a special needs mom. But here I am. The people I've met not only in the Ds community, but others with special needs have taught me so much about patience and acceptance about what's important in life. I'd like to think I've brought some of that to the trail running community. That maybe there'll be one person I meet out on the trail who sees my RDS shirt or hears me talk about James and stops and thinks for a moment before they use the r-word or maybe they simply smile the next time the bagger takes a little longer to pack their groceries than they would like. Maybe instead of making fun of the person who is barely jogging  faster than you can walk around the block in your neighborhood you invite them to go for a run with you. The trail running community has been so accepting to me that I really hope this amazing group can continue to operate the same was even as it grows. The only way it will is if we all try a little. 

Week June 2 - 8

Miles Running: 40.5
Hours Hiking and Running: 8.5

Everyone takes a spill once in awhile during a run!

Rockin' his Digger hat!


  1. I won't have the right words to express how amazing I think you and James are. I found your blog while researching running my first 100 miler. But your words and photos melted my heart and I think you guys are do some much for acceptance and understanding.

    I am excited to follow your journey to Run Rabbit Run as I am trying to decide between that and Leadville for my 100 miler next year. All the best to you and your beautiful boy.


    1. Thanks Beth! Chances are I'll end up back at Leadville next year too, I just love that race!

      Good luck at Ironman Canada!


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