Sunday, December 03, 2006

Jingle Bells in L.L. Bean's Backyard

-Santa Dog-

-Walkers Welcome-

-Pre-race Gathering-

-The Professional Runner-

-Dressed for the Occasion-

Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Run

I ended up in Freeport this morning, at the Jingle Bell Run. No, I didn’t waddle my fat ass around the 5K course, which is basically a loop of downtown Freeport, from the high school, north, parallel to Main Street and then, back southward, past the L.L. Bean retail store and back to the high school on Holbrook Street.

I decided to show up to support a friend who has lost a remarkable 80 pounds over the past 18 months, partly due to diet, but primarily due to exercise, which includes running. I spoke to him at a party, Saturday night and he mentioned the race that he was planning to run with his brother. He did express some concern about the alcohol he was consuming and his ability to race the following day.

Since he never showed up, I assume that he was too hung over and possibly overslept. Still, despite getting "stiffed" by his no-show, I ended up having the opportunity to be a spectator at a community-based event with a tie-in to the holiday season.

With so much of the holiday wrapped in consumerist packaging, it was refreshing to see some folks out on a marvelous December morning (not too cold, but with a just the right snap of briskness in the air), enjoying one another and raising money for a good cause. In what is becoming a rare site in our culture, the 200-300 participants and additional 100 spectators was a cross-generational gathering, with ages ranging from six months up to retirement age and beyond—one saw babies in strollers, hard-core runners, weekend joggers, as well as several geriatric runners still pulsing with energy and a competitive spirit.

The only downside to the event was Freeport’s decision not to close Main Street during the race. With the town’s configuration, it would have been relatively easy to redirect traffic and direct shoppers away from the runners, rather than force them to dodge shopping-crazed drivers, or make drivers swerve around runners. In my book, this is a recipe for disaster that is relatively easy to prevent.

Still, there wasn’t much to complain or criticize about this event. Maine, while it continues to see its unique character ebb away, it still has enough local flavor and community to commend itself to outsiders, who continue to flock here to experience a measure of small town Americana, before it disappears altogether.

1 comment:

Rikki said...

Unsure why, but your friend's inspiring story reminded me of an old Bloom County cartoon in which Opus, trying each and every fad diet, was chided by Milo to "eat less and exercise" instead. As pure validation, I found this entry similarly paying homage to the strip.