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Good Thanks for Good Sportsmanship - Guideposts
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Good Thanks for Good Sportsmanship

I was running blind until a stranger guided me to the finish. Could I ever repay her?

I was running blind until a stranger guided me to the finish. Could I ever repay her?
Credit: rihardzz

I heard cheers from the not-so-distant finish line. Brushed elbows with the runners clustered around me. But I couldn’t see a thing. Not really. All I saw were multicolored, human-sized blurs bobbing up and down on the gray streak of road, funneling into a pitch-black void ahead—the long tunnel into Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and, for me, the final lap of the 13-mile Tom King Classic Half Marathon in Nashville. I’d made it this far, no easy task when you’re legally blind. I squinted for any sign of my running partner, my guide up until now. But I’d lost her in the crowd.

I didn’t want to ask for help. I’ve always been proud that my eyesight never held me back. In fact, my other senses are heightened—something that comes in handy for my job as a massage therapist. But I knew if I entered that dark tunnel alone I could stumble, injuring myself or others. I said a quick prayer, then took a chance. “Excuse me,” I said to the blurry woman next to me, “I’m visually impaired, can I hold onto you through the tunnel?” 

Just what she wanted, right? A sweaty stranger clinging to her while she made her grand entrance into the stadium. To my surprise, she offered her arm immediately. “Of course!” We crossed into the tunnel and she put me at ease by making small talk. Her name was Caroline, and she was an experienced marathoner.  She guided me safely back into the sunshine and we finished the race side by side. I caught my breath, and gave her my thanks. It didn’t feel like enough.

“I have to find some way to repay you,” I said.

“There’s no need,” Caroline insisted. But I still wished I could do something.

Caroline was still on my mind as I headed into work at the spa the Tuesday after the race. My client for the afternoon was an older woman with back issues. She got settled and I went to work, carefully massaging out every ache and knot. We began to chat while she relaxed, and she asked me about my hobbies. I mentioned running the half marathon over the weekend.

“I know that race!” she said. “My daughter actually ran in it this year.”    

She told me her daughter’s name—and I gave her the star treatment for the rest of her session. After all, it was the least I could do for Caroline’s mom.

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