Courage To Start

It’s generally accepted that some of the best stories from any marathon can be found as those in the back of the pack cross the finish line. There you find people who’ve battled illness, injuries, weight, every personal demon you can imagine. Their successful finishes are rightfully celebrated.

Run Wild Missoula thinks something else should be celebrated: The gutsiness it took those people to start – to take that first step, as slow-running advocate John “The Penguin” Bingham notes in his book, “The Courage to Start.”

Each month, Run Wild members nominate runners they find particularly inspirational when it comes to that sort of courage. Nominees are interviewed about why they started – and why they keep running. We think you’ll find their answers as uplifting as we do.

This month’s nominee is Betsy Mulligan-Dague. (Both the nomination and comments below have been condensed for space.)

Nomination: She seemed a bit timid when she first started, but I could tell that she was not a quitter.  I have really enjoyed watching her gain confidence in her running ability, and also watch as her times improve with every race that she does. You can tell from the humble way that she speaks about her running that she doesn’t think of what she has accomplished as much. She was a great inspiration to many runners in [the beginning running] class. They were lining up to run with her and learn what she had to share.

Betsy: I tried running some in the last 20 years but just couldn’t make it stick until I took the beginning running class in 2011. I kind of envied those I would see running and enjoying it, but didn’t believe it could ever be me. I am amazed myself that I keep at it – especially through the winter as I am a wimp about cold weather! I’m sure I am gaining fitness and I am getting better at it, but the community that I now feel a part of is probably the biggest thing that keeps me going. I’ve learned some huge life lessons — like getting up and on with it even when you don’t feel like it, persevering through difficulties, accepting limitations, setting goals and making them reality, learning to fall short of goals and still celebrate, and finding a way to be present in each moment. I see examples of people reaching beyond the differences to encourage and help each other.  I like being part of that and I’d like to figure out a way to spread that sense of community around the world.

by Gwen Florio

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