Jon Stolpe Stretched

What's S-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g me now?

Race to Remember Recap


Yesterday, I ran the first ever Perk Trail Half Marathon.  Okay, it wasn’t an official race.  It was my own crazy idea that I shared last week.  The race gave me a goal to help me get into shape but it also gave me a way to remember the 10th anniversary of September 11th, 2001.

As I ran, I spent each of the 13 (actually 13.1) miles thinking and praying for a different group of people or things which were tied to 9/11.  I wrote these things on my arm as a reminder.  As I approached each mile, I would pray on a more general basis for the first half of the mile.  For the second half of the mile, I would personalize it by concentrating on specific people in my life:

1 – Leanne

2 – Hannah & Isaac

3 – Greg Bonderanko, Jim Callahan, Bruce Beck, junior firefighters from our scout troop

4 – Heather Roulle, John D’Orazio, Shannon Clark, Mike C.

5 – Mike G., John Rizzuto, Evan Flora, Tom Williams

6 – Barack Obama, Joe Biden, senators, Congress, state governors

7 – U.N., NATO

8 – My neighbors, Joe Giunta

9 – Mayor Bloomberg, Brian Willem, Forefront Church

10 – NCC, Journey’s Crossing

11 – Christ’s Church of the Valley, my parents as my dad just started at a new church

12 – tough work relationships

13 – Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan

It was a powerful experience to give these things to God as I passed over each mile.  It was freeing to release these people and worries to the One who cares so deeply for us.

I also had a couple of interesting and unexpected happenings related to the Race to Remember.  I guess I wasn’t shocked when I started the “race” on my own despite my invitation for others to join me. For one, it was early in the morning (7AM), and most people were probably still in bed.  Secondly, my last-minute idea really didn’t give a lot of time for people to prepare and commit to running 13.1 miles.

The first amusing happening came at the first half mile marker when a cat jumped on the trail and started running with me.  I’ve had dogs run with me before, but I’ve never had a cat try to run with me.  Honestly, it was a bit freaky as the cat stayed with me for several yards.  When the cat finally realized it couldn’t keep up, it stopped and started meowing loudly at me.  I smiled as I continued running thinking that this cat was my first cheering section of the day.

The second interesting happening occurred five miles into the “race” when I caught up to Dave, a man who used to go to our church.  I almost ran past him until I realized who he was. I asked him how far he was going and he said a few more miles, so we ran together for about two and a half miles catching up on running, our kids, and their new church.  It was a great, unexpected diversion in the middle of my run.

After I left Dave, I continued back on the trail towards home.  As the miles wore on, I could feel my legs starting to grow tired.  With about three miles to go, I saw another familiar face.  Scott, a friend from scouting, was waiting for me and ready to run the final three miles with me.  Apparently, he read my blog and was inspired to come out and run with me.  It was another great diversion at the perfect time.  As we clicked off the final three miles, we talked about our boys who are in the same class in their first year of middle school.  We talked about September 11th and our plans for the day.  And we enjoyed each other’s company as we talked about various other things.

When we finished (and I caught my breath), Scott asked if we should pray.  It was a perfect way to end the Race to Remember.  In addition to praying for the things written on my arm, I thanked God for the reminder through Scott and Dave of those who had “run” alongside my family over the past year at just the right time when we needed a meal, a prayer, or even just a friend to talk with.  I will never forget the “race” yesterday and the reminders of God’s faithfulness and of hope for the future.

I’m looking forward to running the 2nd ever Perk Trail Half Marathon – Another Race to Remember next year.  Who’s with me?

What did you do yesterday?  Did you do anything to remember the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001?


September 12, 2011 - Posted by | exercise, experiences, life, looking back, running, thoughts


  1. Congrats on doing your run for 9/11. I didn’t do anything significant but definitely reflected on those we lost.

    Comment by ramblinknight | September 12, 2011 | Reply

  2. Wow…congrats on the race Jon…

    I just spent time in church and with family….a remembering the cost for living like this in America…

    Comment by Arny Sanchez | September 12, 2011 | Reply

    • We also had the blessing of attending my son’s first Boy Scout court of honor/family picnic. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

      Comment by jonstolpe | September 12, 2011 | Reply

  3. Is next year’s race on Sunday, or on Tuesday, 9/11?
    I’d love to run on a Saturday, but Sunday AM is tough, b/c I’d likely miss church.
    Tuesday is even tougher.

    Comment by Dan M. | September 12, 2011 | Reply

    • Maybe, we’ll look at Sat. Sept. 8th. Saturday’s generally work better for me also. Getting an early start at 7AM allowed me to get to church in plenty of time – but I also live pretty close. Getting back to NJ could be a challenge on a Sunday morning.

      Comment by jonstolpe | September 12, 2011 | Reply

  4. Jon I really am enjoying your writing and sharing your thoughts and all. I’m proud of you!
    Will there be a book printed soon? You have a lot to share and help others grow.
    We miss so much not being near you, but I am grateful I get to experience and hear what’s happening in your life this way, at least… I love you, Jon! Mom

    Comment by Mom | September 12, 2011 | Reply

  5. As a runner, I loved this. What a beautiful way to focus your thoughts on an emotionally tough day. Glad you found some friends to run portions of the race with you. And, no, I have never had a cat run with me either!

    Comment by eileen | September 13, 2011 | Reply

  6. […] 10.  Race to Remember Recap […]

    Pingback by Jon Stolpe Stretched | October 3, 2011 | Reply

  7. […] 10.  Race to Remember Recap […]

    Pingback by September 2011 Top Posts « Jon Stolpe Stretched | October 3, 2011 | Reply

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