Posted by: David D. Daggett | September 20, 2010

Catch the Angel Train

 Catch the Angel Train 
      This past weekend angels revealed themselves to us at the Angels Race Triathlon. The race spectacularly concluded with a large group of volunteers and children running out on the course to escort the last finisher in the final quarter of a mile. She was surrounded by angels as she came down the finish shoot – it was an angel train!

Catch the Angel Train!

The Angels Race was started by the Groover, Broman, and Gunter families after they suffered the pain of tragedies. The race was first held, and continues in Lynchburg, Virginia. Six years ago they started a second race in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Over those years they have turned their personal negatives into collective positives of optimism, thankfulness, and spreading a healthy fitness lifestyle.

The Angels Race and Angels Foundation were founded with a two-fold mission. Firstly, they create opportunities for individuals to honor angels who have touched their lives. And, secondly, they encourage people to be angels in the lives of others.

The Angels Foundation recognizes that we can only become our best with the inspiration and strength of others – angels who see more in us than we see in ourselves. These angels often impact our lives in ways that are difficult to describe and impossible to repay.

The sport of triathlon, like life, is as much a competition with self as it is with other athletes. The Angels Race is an opportunity to challenge yourself to give it your best and to honor those who inspired you to become who you are and who you seek to be. Participants write the name of the angel they are honoring on their body during body marking and carry the spirit of those persons throughout the race. Many are inspired to their best performance, some resolve grief or celebrate a lost angel, while others recognize the significance of someone currently in their life. For everyone, it is more than just a race.

Touching people through sport seems to provide a tangible avenue of connection. Many people use this race to make a positive difference in their own lives. The stories ranged from families who had lost young children, to a local finisher and former volunteer who lost 100 pounds to become a triathlete. They are all special. You never know when there may be opportunities to make a positive difference.

Over the years I have had many emotions and feelings come from races. I have raced everything from small local events to the World Championships in Hawaii, and many of the same thoughts and feelings repeat themselves. One of the most amazing aspects of these events is that every athlete involved is a winner. Every participant from the one crossing the finish line first to the one crossing it last is treated as a winner. I honestly do not know of any other sort of event where this is the case.

The Angles Race had so many different stories. Under the leadership of local triathlete Mick Gunter and his beautiful family, the race was orchestrated and executed very well. It was inspiring and moving to watch all the different families and their motivations, some of which were by life changing events.

It’s the same way in life. We need to help and recognize others for their efforts and for what they have been through. We all need to find and thank our own angels and be angels to others. Somehow the crazy sport of triathlon continues to be a living metaphor from which we all continue to learn and be inspired.

Catch the Angel Train,


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