I’ll never forget my first college cup. There had been such buildup to that weekend and such excitement when it finally came.
Though I was excited for an entire weekend of fun and competition, there was one event I was particularly eager to participate in—the 5k. As an avid runner who just couldn’t just call it quits after college, I was ready to do what I loved with my friends and classmates, and to compete against my training partner/nemesis with the whole school watching.
“This is the most important race of your life,” a former collegiate runner/upperclassman told me before the race. “This will definitely be in your Dean’s Letter.” And thus with wide eyes and a heart about to beat out of my chest, the gun went off1.
The beauty of the 5k is that it’s not just about who wins2. To quote famed author Ed Caesar, running a race is an endeavor that is “democratic.” Everyone runs “against his or her limits. Everyone is forced to manage a certain amount of pain and to recruit hidden reserves.” The 5k is “an event against which hoards of everyday people—fat people, thin people; people crooked by time and people sprightly as foals; rich people and people in need—test themselves. I’m running against cancer. I’m running for my dad. I’m running for a personal best.”3 This is the essence of running, and what better way to be a part of it than participating in your college colors along your classmates, mentors, children, and pets. We love it, we hate, but no matter what, we run it. And what a scene it is.
1In case you’re wondering, I ended up winning this particular race, and the year after as well. I’ve since lost two in a row and will be back for redemption next year. I can do that because I will never graduate. (I love Vandy so much!)
2This is also reflected in the scoring for college cup. Even if someone from your college wins the race, you can still place last if overall participation is lacking.
3These quotes are from the book Two Hours (which I highly recommend), and are definitely taken out of context. Though the author was actually referring to running a marathon, I think his words still apply here.