In 1967 Kathrine Switzer followed her dream and her passion to run in the famous Boston Marathon.
She registered for the race. She was given a number. 261. It was, at that moment, just a number. And she began the race.
Race official Jock Semple became aware that a woman was running the race, and that was against the rules. In an effort to stop her, he rushed into the line of runners and attempted to snatch the number off Kathrine. Her boyfriend, Thomas Miller was running with her and came to her defense. She finished the race, but a tremendous controversy had arisen, and in the world of marathon runners, number 261 would never just be a number again.
When Jock Semple accosted Kathrine mid run, how was she to know that more people wouldn’t come after her? Perhaps the police would be called. Perhaps she would face charges for disrupting the race. All she wanted to do was run in one of the world’s most famous races, but now she had now way of telling what the consequences were.
In 1972 women were finally permitted to officially run in the Boston Marathon, and since that time thousands of women have.
A lot of people might have given up out of a sense of self-preservation. But Kathrine kept running.
In 2017, at the age of 70, half a century after he famous run, Kathrine returned to the Boston Marathon and ran with a group of women known as 261 Fearless. Through Kathrine’s bold run in 1967, women found courage to stand up and be counted, to follow their dreams, and to simply run the race.
The race Paul talks about in Hebrews is much more than just a race run on city streets. It is literally a matter of life and death. And it doesn’t end after a single day or a single event. It is more than just an endurance race… it takes a lifetime to run it.
Like marathon runners who often look to past heroes to draw the strength to finish the long, grueling race, we have someone we can look to when our spirits are troubled by the difficulties of navigating through this world.
Jesus finished his course, even when it took him to the cross. Even when he could see the shadows looming ahead, he kept running.
When our course becomes difficult, if we quiet the turmoil of our hearts and thoughts, we will be able to hear Jesus’ gentle voice, encouraging us on.
What are the greatest obstacles facing you? What make your faith life difficult to sustain? How can others help you through this? How might you be able to help others finish their race?