Last weekend in Monterey, CA the 8th Run Forrest Run Charity race took place. It started because the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company embraced the corporate philosophy of being involved in each local community. Mama Gump probably told Forrest when he was a little boy, “Forrest, you have to be both a good citizen and good neighbor.” It is in that spirit of good neighborliness that the run originated.
The 2002 original Run Forrest Run had less then 200 participants and occurred mostly from the Herculean effort of Dave Trombetta — Bubba Gump’s local sales manager. The following year Run Forrest Run teamed up with the inaugural Big Sur Half Marathon as the complimentary 5k race. Over the next seven years improvements were made including the addition of the Just Run! Just Kids 3k race in 2007 and moving both the Run Forrest Run 5k and Just Run! Just Kids 3k races to Saturday. This created a more family friendly event as the Half Marathoners running on Sunday were now able to run with their families on Saturday.
So what? Why bother with all this running? In addition to being a great family event, the Run Forrest Run and Big Sur Half Marathon are charity events that give back directly to the community.
Forrest Gump said, “one day I decided to go for a little run.” That’s how many of the participants feel — they just love to run! So now it’s an event that allows the runners to run and yet it’s so much more than that — It’s a charity event! The Big Sur Marathon Board of Directors and multiple hundreds of volunteers make the event possible. This year the organization will give approximately $35,000 to local charities. In addition, tens of thousands of dollars were raised by affiliated charity groups including Pancreatica Walks and Runs, Athletes for Adoption, Ronald MacDonald House and Team in Training. Since the beginning of the Half Marathon series of runs, there has been $200,000 granted directly to local charities. 2009 saw 7000 registered runners in the Half Marathon and over 1500 runners in the Run Forrest Run 5k and Just Run! Just Kids 3k events. Each runner and volunteer should feel proud of their participation.
The combination of people who love to run (the participants) along with people who love to run and feel a higher calling to the community (The Big Sur Marathon Board of Directors) and the hundreds of individuals who want to help (the volunteers) makes for a great weekend event in which people both feel good about themselves and what they are doing for the community — it’s a win-win.
I want to acknowledge one special group of volunteers that helped this year — the USMC. The Marines, along with the Army, Navy, and Air Force, are stationed at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey. These brave young men and women are learning a foreign language to bolster our Nation’s security in intelligence gathering and on-the-ground communication. Several of the Big Sur Marathon Board members are retired Marines and the community involvement continues. Probably more than 200+ Marines donated their time to the weekend events.
As I greeted the runners at the finish line of both the 3k and 5k events, it was especially moving to witness how two Marines choose to volunteer. They ran and accompanied the runners to the finish line. When they reached the finish line, they’d peel off and sprint back several hundred feet to greet and run to the finish line with more runners. I personally viewed this run-to-the-finish-line and sprint-back several dozen times. I marveled at the individual fitness level of these Marines and tried to imagine what it meant to a young boy or girl to have a Marine running to the finish line with them.
I say thank you to those two fine young men, and every Marine. And a belated Birthday Greeting to all the Marines as November 10th marked the 234th year of this great organization.
Semper Fi — Always Faithful. A sentiment Forrest Gump would surely identify with.
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