Until Journey’s End Trail Run…

Posted by on Jun 23, 2010 in running | 0 comments

I ran down the trail, avoiding roots and branches, breaking the silence of the forest with my footsteps and labored breathing. I was in the middle of my first trail run, a 5K race to raise money for the non-profit Until Journey’s End (UJE), and for the life of me, I couldn’t place the experience with anything I had ever done before.

When I was eight, I remember running through the woods behind my friend Allison’s house, trying to “escape” from an imaginary orphanage. The atmosphere…familiar…pain in my calves…not so much…

When I was 12, I remember riding a horse through the woods at Circle C Ranch, enjoying the ride but sitting (un)comfortably on the saddle. Not the same either…I was traversing the trails today without the help of a four legged friend…

Yep, this was nothing like I had ever done before, with each step taking me into unfamiliar territory. It was a physically challenging course…no flat straightaways here. (The picture below was just before we entered the woods…little did I know that the young girl was going to smoke me…and that the trail was going to eat me for lunch) At one point, I asked another runner how far we had gone, and when he said 2.5, I thought for a split second that he meant miles, rather than kilometers. When it dawned on me that we were only halfway through the race, I groaned. This was going to be tough.


Then I passed a poster with a picture of a premature infant in the NICU. It was representative of the over 50 families that UJE has helped over the past couple of years. They provide physical, spiritual, and emotional support to families who are away from home to be with a loved one in the midst of a medical crisis. It was the reason why I was running – to help raise money so that UJE could continue to meet the needs of these brave families who haunt hospital hallways, drive countless hours to and from doctor appointments, and crash in the corners of hospital rooms.


As I struggled to make it to the top of the next ridge, I couldn’t help but draw a connection to the difficult trail these brave families face. Each day forces them into unfamiliar territory, as they learn an entire new vocabulary associated with their family member’s medical care. Each day their exhaustion grows, as they survive on vending machine sandwiches and hotel room shampoo. My run will be over in a little more than a half an hour, but their journey can last weeks, months, even years.

After I (finally) finished, I stood around and watched the relief and in some cases, pain on the faces of the other runners as they crossed the finish line. There were a few people with mud smeared up their back or a scraped elbow, evidence of a rough landing.


The journey doesn’t always end the way you anticipate, and this holds true with families dealing with medical crisis. Thankfully, there is someone sticking it out with them “until journey’s end”…

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