For some it’s Monday night football. For others is Thursday night fights. For the Lawrence crew and some of our closest friends, this fall it was all about Tuesday night at the races.
each fall, starting in late August and running through October, the municipality of Anchorage Parks and Rec department, along with a dedicated group of runner volunteers, put on these trail races at various parks around the Anchorage area. There are some serious runners there, of course, but the majority of people are just out to have fun.
I had heard about the “Tuesday Night Races” the first year we were back in Alaska, but the fall of 2008 was a whirlwind of uncertainty and unpacking as we filled our little house with books and our days with Dr appointments.
The fall of 2009 came and went.
But in 2010, my dear friends Myrna and Lisa and I decided to get after it and take our kids and hit the trails, along with hundreds of other Anchorage-ites. We would run, walk, whatever, and then end up at one of our houses for dinner.
We made about 1/2 the races and had a great time.
This year, we stepped it up a bit. Committing to try to get to every race, and a potluck dinner after each one.
This year I didn’t run a single race. (not that what I normally do can be called running…)
At the beginning of the summer, a good friend got horribly sick. She ended up spending 2 months in local hospitals, and by some miracle, she is alive today. And we, her friends, are thankful.
My friend,( although I have known her just 2 years it has been long enough to know that she) is a vibrant, active woman who has never sat still very well. And the Tuesday night races were right up her alley.
So, we made it happen, her friends, her family, and her. Each Tuesday night we would meet at the race site and fight over who pushed her wheelchair.
Usually I won.
Over 8 weeks, we were never first, and we were never last, and we certainly had more fun than most. Over trails, through mud and muck, over countless tree roots and rocks we went. My friend would ride in the chair until the trail became too narrow or too bumpy, then she would grab her cane and walk a ways. Uphills were brutal, especially if the trails were slippery with mud. Downhills were just as bad, filled with visions of runaway wheelchairs.
One night we hit a rock. And stopped a bit abruptly. My friend was ok, a little shook up, and I sported a 6 inch bruise from where the handle was drilled into my thigh.
But we kept going (partly because we were in the middle a big trail system and there was no other choice, and partly because we are both rather stubborn).
At another race, a wheel fell off. I was able to catch the chair and keep my buddy from being dumped on her face. We finished the race and laugh about it still. And probably will for the rest of our lives.
At one race we nearly ran over a little kid. It was my fault. I got distracted checking out the homeless camp set up in the woods next to the trail we were on and just wasn’t watching where I was going. I am sure both that kid and his mother are suffering nightmares of what could have been.
The last race of the season was just before Halloween. It was a costume race, I dressed up as a penguin and my friend as an iceberg. Her wheelchair draped in blue and white fabric. We got a lot of stares, a lot of laughs and again, had a lot of fun.
And after each race we would gather, sometimes up to 20 of us, at the house nearest the race site and we would share a meal together.
Sweaty, stinky, hungry, happy.