Bob Dolphin is an amazing man. His wife, Lenore, equally so. Together they represent just about everything that’s good about the running community. They are warm. They are giving. They are accepting. And they are indomitable.
A short recap: In March of 2007 I was invited to speak at the dinner before the Yakima River Canyon Marathon. This event is part race, part family reunion, part 12-step meeting. In addition to the regular participants there is always a large gathering of the Marathon Maniacs club, the 50 States Marathon Club, and the 100 Marathons club. You begin to see a theme?
There are always a hand full of first timers but most of the crowd is there because it’s the only place where you can feel normal if this is your 300th marathon. It’s also the only place where when someone says they’ve run 25 marathons in the last year the other folks will ask if they’ve been injured. It’s a strange and wonderfully unique crowd.
The occasion for the 2007 visit was to celebrate Bob Dolphin’s 400th marathon. He was, I think, 78 years old at the time. On race day he came across the finish line strong and looking good. We all cheered. Then Lenore asked me if I’d come back to celebrate Bob’s 500th marathon. I took one look at Bob and thought – no matter how good he looked – there was no way he’d keep going for another 100 marathons. So, I said “OF COURSE”.
I’d bump in to Lenore and Bob at events throughout the year and Lenore would always give me a running count of where Bob was. 2008 came and went and Bob was up to 420 or so. 2009, 2010, 2011 were in the books are so were nearly 100 marathons. Then the phone call came. Lenore reminding me that I had promised to be in Yakima for Bob’s 500th and that I should get my plane ticket.
That’s how it came to be that on March 30, 2012 I was standing at the finish line in near disbelief as Bob walked crisply across the finish line. Bob, a former Marine, looked weary but determined. And, as always, Lenore who has had her own health struggles, was there to greet him along with a host of friends and family.
What now? I don’t know. Bob has 10 more states to go in order to have run a marathon in all 50 states. I’m know that’s a goal he wants to complete. But, I hope he takes his 500 marathon pin and decides that enough is enough.
In song and in scripture there is the advice: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1 It’s a tricky business knowing when the season is over. It’s not easy to accept that the summer sun is gone, that the fall has left the trees bare, and that it is time to accept that the early darkness means that it’s winter.
Whatever he decides, he will take it on with enthusiasm, character, and good humor. And whatever that is, I wish them both the best that life has to offer. They are, without question, the best of all of us.
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