Three years ago, Molly Henry and I went to the Mini Marathon to cheer on our friends Sarah and Kaylee who were running the race. Little did we know, Molly and I would have so much fun cheering that we would come back again the next year to yell for people again. We discovered that we were excellent at spotting people in the crowd, something we didn't even know was a skill, and that we just happened to know a whole lot of runners.
Last year I missed the Mini when I was at Sar and Ben's wedding. This year I was stoked to come back, this time with Emily Glanders as my cheering partner as Eric ran the race. We woke up crazy early and drove downtown into the chaos. It's like entering the excitement and magic of Disney World, except not nearly as expensive and there are no lines.
Music is blaring. The corrals are packed with runners. The sidewalks are packed with fans. The air is soaked with anticipation. There are big screens with live coverage of the race. Bands are playing and cheerleaders are dancing. It's the largest mini marathon in the country. Emily and I climbed on top of a wall in front of the Eiteljorg Museum to get a good view of the start.
I spotted this girl in the navy blue long sleeve shirt before the runners began. She was too far away to be sure it was her so I had to take a picture and zoom in. Yep, it was Zoe, a CILT from a couple summers ago.
I jumped down from the wall and ran over to the fence and yelled her name until she noticed me through the chaos. She ran over and gave me a big hug before she took off. We got to wish Eric good luck before the race began and he started off with a couple friends.
Right after the start Emily and I had to walk down this really cool art path, across a pedestrian bridge and then behind the zoo. I LOVE this tower of colors. I wish I could have a copy of it somehow. I'll have to think about how to do that...
This year we also found a giant cornucopia. Kind of like the beginning of the Hunger Games right? Except maybe not as life-threatening of a setting.
We got to see runners at about the mile and a half point and I spotted Haeli, an 8th grader that I had in class last year. She's so sweet and I'm so glad I got to yell for her.
Then Emily and I found our spot on the bridge, just a little less than a mile from the finish. Derek Daluga breezed by with a giant smile on his face, finishing in 1 hour and 18 minutes. That's incredible.
Next I spotted my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Deckard! Her son and daughter are both Tecumseh campers so sometimes I still get to see her in the summer. She was also flying and did well under 2 hours. Then I spotted Sophie, the younger sister of one of my old YL girls.
Samantha Miller was killing it was awesome form as she ran by. Sam was an awesome runner all four years at Carmel and now goes to Vanderbilt. Sam was one of my YL girls and a CILT so I was so happy to see her for a second today.
Every year I love spotting the people running in crazy costumes like these super heroes or the sombreros for Cinco de Mayo.
Emily spotted Kerstin Rodgers who worked with us at Tecumseh a few years ago. When Eric ran past Emily went with him to run the last mile together.
Molly and I came up with all the best things to yell together so I carried on the tradition today, "You're almost done and then you can lay down! You should take a nap today! You're beating so many people! You can have whatever you want for lunch! You don't have to run tomorrow! You can pee so soon! And then you don't have to start running again! You can tweet about this soon!"
Lesem spotted me and I got to capture her double thumbs up. I missed seeing Frat but he was running the race too. Couldn't believe I recognized a girl named Katie that I knew from our church in Monticello when I was really little.
Emel, my roommate for the last two years, knew where to spot me and we both freaked out when we saw each other. I started yelling her name and jumping while she ran with her arms outstretched like this. She is just the most precious.
I heard someone yell, "You're my son's Young Life leader!" and turned to see this mom, "He's James Conaway!" So funny. Then I saw Carly, an old Teton girl, who I've spotted in this race all three years.
I spotted a Carmel YL guy and Lauren who works at my school. My friend Jeannie from school walked by and stopped to talk for a second. I never spotted Tucker, Moyer or Feeney--three other teachers who ran today.
I had two students run the race and they went by within a minute of one another. I had told them both where I would be on the bridge and they each ran on my side and yelled, "Miss Wright!" to get my attention.
As Emily and I were walking towards the finish I spotted my friend Abby who leads YL at North Central HS. Luckily I ran into her in the park afterwards too. We got to talk to Derek for a little bit and I saw Amy Tittle, an old camp counselor that had run the race too. So many connections everywhere.
I still don't think that I ever actually want to run the Mini but I'm more confident that cheering is my favorite thing. Today I'm so glad that I got to share this adventure with Emily. She is one of the most encouraging and positive friends I know, a natural cheerleader. The 2014 Mini was a success.