Running the Race Together, by Matt Cooper

At the beginning of this year I decided that I wanted to take my running to a new level.  I’m still what most would call novice, but I decided that I wanted to run some local 10K races, that I wanted to run a half marathon, and that ultimately I wanted to run a full marathon before the end of 2009.  Perhaps even greater than my desire to run these races was my desire for others to run with me.  I’ve realized, that for people like me it’s really ultimately about bringing others alongside what I’m doing.  I don’t really like to do things alone.  Relationships and encouraging others are my heart, and they are the key motivator for why I do what I do.  So when it comes to “doing life” there are few things more energizing than being a part of a team.  When we learn to do life together the spiritual lessons and implications are endless – and let’s face it, most things in life are just more fun when you’re doing them with others.

So this Spring, I began to try to encourage the boys in my home, other students in our program, and others on our campus to join me in running a half marathon at the end of April.  In the beginning there was some scattered desire to run with me, but when April came many lost interest, or gave in to the fear of what seemed like a lofty goal of running 13.1 miles.  In the end I was only joined by fellow house parent Tim Couch, and by one of our college students from the Hope Program, Antonio.  It was an amazing experience for the three of us to face what seemed to be a “giant” and to conquer it.  I loved the chance the reach one of my personal goals, but at the same time I still felt unsatisfied that more from our Back2Back community had not joined us.

This summer I had the chance to be a part of a fantastic 10K that was put on here in Monterrey.  Not only did I run the race, but eleven others ran with me in what was the first official Team Back2Back!  This time Tim and I were joined by Mauricio from our staff team, two summer interns and seven young men from our Hope Program.

What we great victory we experienced together.   For me, my immense joy wasn’t so much from completing the race, but it was more so from running the race as part of a team.  There was an excitement that built as we took pictures, warmed up, and gathered at the starting line together.  There was an anticipation as we looked for one another along they way, and took the time to give a shout of encouragement.  There was a mental boost that came from being able to run portions of the race alongside someone that you consider to be like family.  In the end there was a great satisfaction in seeing each one cross the finish line, congratulate each other, and together celebrate “our victory”.

1st row: Ruben, Leo, Cesar, Antonio 2nd row: Oscar, Omar, Tim, Homero, Mauricio, Matt, Shawn, Abby

1st row: Ruben, Leo, Cesar, Antonio 2nd row: Oscar, Omar, Tim, Homero, Mauricio, Matt, Shawn, Abby