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Letter: View from the rear

Last place is the first place to begin. Running this year’s Bridge of Flowers 10K was from the rear.

At the ringing of the cowbell, 6.2 miles seems impossible and never-ending. When you are last, everyone is ahead of YOU.

ALWAYS.

When you are last, the rumbling Shelburne Falls Fire District ambulance c-r-e-e-p-s behind. Around you, a zippy golf cart darts and flits, the inhabitants track your progress.

Everyone sees you … being slow. Squashing slippery, anxious guilt pangs for holding things up … you try to move faster.

The pair in the golf cart is encouraging and kind. The first responders in the ambulance are patient.

When you are last, onlookers wait for you to go by before leaving the porches, windows and roadsides to return to their Saturday morning.

When you are last, there’s comfort in steadfast friends running with you. Not alone, not left behind.

Traverse over water to the other side. Transition time.

Passing mile 2, begin the ascent. Your pace trickles to a steady decline, as the incline increases.

When you are last, winning is not an option. Finishing is.

Insurmountable, Crittenden Hill looms. The momentum of one step and another subverts overcoming inertia. What were you thinking when you signed up for this? The desire to stop, succumbing to doubt and exhaustion is overwhelming.

PEOPLE … shouting, clapping, cheering, waving, beeping, offering water, playing music, and flashing thumbs-up for you. Strangers’ kindness flows at critical moments.

Conquered Crittenden Hill. Did not think you could do it. Au contraire. Flush of pride powers you forward.

Route 112 with blazing sun and asphalt burning. Coming around the bend, you see “The End is Near” … another sign of encouragement posted on a mailbox.

Only 0.2 miles remain. Running down North Street, gliding onto State Street, then over the Iron Bridge.

Clasping hands with Nancy, Robin, and Anne … together, we finished. At last.

CHERYL DUKES

Buckland

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