17th Annual

Well just having returned from completing 3 New England States we have a grand total of 26 states done. People sometimes ask which state I like best or which race was the most fun. I always say I do not compare them; I just try to enjoy each one for what it has to offer.

Well… I cannot do that any longer. I had an experience in a little town in the littlest state that was simply extraordinary. We joined the "ramble" with the Red Rooster running team out of Warren, Rhode Island for a most beautiful 5 miles around the gorgeous east bay. It was a Thursday night run that they do throughout the summer.

We were a bit unsure about directions so we emailed the race director Dave for some specifics. Tricia and Dave exchanged some emails and Dave's curiosity in our very far from home journey led him to discover my 50 state quest. Apparently he could not keep that to himself. After each race the running club meets back at Market Street pub for pizza and beer. We were greeted as part of the family and asked to join them back at the pub. Of course neither one of us is going to pass up such fare. We were so surprised when Dave, director of the club and acting as MC, stood up and introduced us. He was so thrilled to have us join him and we were not sure but we think he was happier about us reaching the half way race of #25 than we were. Exclaiming that "I will not be outdone" he presented us with the coveted Red Rooster t-shirts and 2 personally engraved trophies.

Can you believe they had our names and the date of the run engraved in them? How they did that on such short notice we will never know. Dave then said even though Tricia and I had not run the requisite 8 races in the ramble to qualify for a T-shirt, he had consulted with the executive committee (which consisted solely of himself) and dipped into the team purse to present these memoirs just for us. As we stood up to thank Dave and accept his gracious gifts the entire room stood and cheered. Both Tricia and I confided in each other later that we felt like bursting into tears. It was simply an amazing moment and while I knew when I began this journey there would be special people I would meet and places and moments I could not yet imagine, being shown such warmness and hospitality was an inspiration I will carry with me not only through the next 25 states but also on any bad days chemotherapy decides to throw my way.

So if you are lucky enough to find yourself in Warren, RI on any given Thursday night in the warmer months and you have 5 miles to kill, I highly recommend you stop by Market Street Pub to meet, talk to and run with our dear new friends Dave and the entire Red Rooster Running Club. It is nice to know you can still depend on the kindness of strangers to help carry you through life's journeys. If you do decide to run the 5 mile race however, please do not try to keep up with the Barrington High cross country runners as that is insane.

Mark Etheridge
February 25, 1972
October 28, 2011

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Last Modified: November 23, 11:00 P.M.