By Wendi Chapman
In my journey of life and work I strive to be a leader. But in sport, I am humbled and grateful to be a follower and observer on the path of ‘Getting Worthy.’ It is on this path that I’ve tagged alongside some of the great unassuming and largely unpublicized heroes of running and philanthropy.
I have run alongside of sponsored Worth The Hurt athlete Kevin Kline and his relentless fight against pediatric cancer and will trail The SF Marathon’s own “Wandirtlust” trailblazer Jojo Reuland on the Costa Brava as part of her global media and charity campaign for Suicide Prevention. Just recently I reunited with Dan Czerwonka, my running partner in crime and Worth The Hurt sponsored athlete who leads the charge for Godparents Youth Organization, a travel-mentoring program for LA inner-city youth.
Furthering our mission of global philanthropy, I traded in my desk job for a spot on the front lines and decided rather appropriately to focus at the start line of the 2012 Blackmores Sydney Marathon produced by our race partner in our sister city. Needless to say, my ‘job’ never gets old, but somebody has to do it. With Dan leading our charge, we were off to the races as they say.
I was particularly drawn to Sydney (having never been), as an excited runner and tourist seeking all the adventure and wonder of this new city. I assumed that there would be no better way to view Sydney and all of the iconic sites than having the opportunity and freedom to run through they city unobstructed. I was spot on. It is through this experience that we gained a unique vantage point and were close enough to feel the warmth and enthusiasm of the Australian people.
In preparation for race day, we started off with an incredibly delicious and healthy dinner at the Park Hyatt, accompanied by a stunning sunset view of the Sydney Opera House (our future finish line). We were then welcomed with a pre-race pep talk and race bib delivery (WOW-VIP service), from the incredibly friendly and energetic Nicola Bentley of Pont3, The Blackmores Sydney Running Festival race production team. I truly aspire to have this kind of spunk the day before we hit full production mode on The 2013 Wipro San Francisco Marathon! I only hope they will share their secrets.
We were now hours from race day on the heels of a 14-hour flight from Los Angeles. Dan is patching up a sprained ankle and we’re headed out to the Kings Crossing train stop with both the crowds of other anxious runners with race bibs flapping in the cool breeze and party-goers from the night before. Naturally we have no idea where we are going since Dan took a blurry iPhone picture of Nicola’s detailed directions we can’t decipher, so we follow an eager looking runner who turns out to be running his first marathon.
Kyle, our newly adopted guide, is from the Blue Mountains (a short drive from Sydney known for it’s scenic trails), and we form a team destined to find the start line in time. From there we take off together on what must be one of the most spectacular days of the year in Sydney. I’m so busy shooting pictures of Dan and Kyle over Harbour Bridge that I might have forgotten to tell Dan that Kyle was shooting for a 3:30 finish time which put us off to a very quick start. Dan’s confused as to why he’s so tired and his ankle is shooting pain — so much for taking it easy. Kyle quickly becomes a speck in the sea of runners passing by and finishes in under four hours. Congrats Kyle!
Through many more miles, Dan adjusts his bandages and I adjust my position as I reflect on worth, and take in the sights, smells and expressions of this tremendous experience. The gardens are in full bloom, the air is fresh and the bodies and minds of some 35,000 runners flood the streets of Sydney with unbridled endurance; passing through the Harbour Bridge, Sydney CBD, Darling Harbour and Centennial Gardens towards the majestic Sydney Opera House beckoning for our return high above the twists and turns along the harbor.
It is along this last turn towards mile 26 (aka 42km), that I feel a light tap on my shoulder. At this point in the race I’m well aware that it could be a hallucination but I turn to find a woman in her sixties cheerfully running and pointing to the “Get Worthy” screen print on the back of my shirt. She exclaims through exhausted breath “I’m Getting Worthy by running my first marathon!” I smile which takes my breath away and I manage, “My friend, you are already worthy. Congratulations!” She smiles and moves towards the finish with fierce determination and I am reminded of my own motivation.
Simply put I run to slow down. To see the faces of the races, every glistening and piercing fiber of muscle on the finishers as they glide towards the finish (two hours ahead of me), the many causes impressed upon the shirts and hearts of inspired runners, the sweat and tears, the hawks hovering above, the eye contact beaming support and understanding, and the exhilaration of the endorphins running wild attempting to banish the hurt.
For me, in the slowing down, I am reminded that I sped through college, law school, the bar exam, buying stuff (cars, homes, etc.), relationships, trips and races without mindfulness. I’m met with the acute awareness that we often believe these things we collect or achieve define our worth. However, our true worth is innate…it’s not earned, it’s not met with medals, accolades, acceptance, judgment, degrees, PRs, scores or otherwise obtained or purchased. Our worth is our truth and when we are mindful and living it everything changes and we win every race because we’ve won before we’ve crossed the start.
So what does it mean to Get Worthy? Well, hopefully primarily it means that you GET that worth is an inherent gift of life and that you are worthy no matter what you do to achieve perceived worth. At Worth The Hurt, Getting Worthy stands for that space between your inherent worth and that which compels and moves us beyond words to do the unthinkable towards the service of others.
Many thanks to Pont3 for producing a world-class event with ample water stops, aid stations, enthusiastic volunteers, and an incredibly scenic and stunning course. Touring Sydney through this event is something I will never forget and I encourage you to come and see all of the marvels this city has to offer first hand.
For more info on Blackmores Sydney Running Festival go to: http://www.sydneyrunningfestival.com.au
Please follow us as we travel the globe collecting and sharing stories of worth and Getting Worthy. We hope that you will join us in sharing your story of worth in Sydney, San Francisco and beyond.
And, in case you are wondering where to rest your weary and worthy bones after touring Sydney, I suggest you run, not walk to The Hapuku Lodge in Kaikoura, New Zealand just a short flight from Sydney. Thank you to Tony, Chris, Anika and Fiona – my unofficial sponsors who took wonderful care of me at the Lodge.