Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A chance encounter

Labor Day, Sept. 3, was the second running of the Fortitude 10k race, in Fort Collins, an event orchestrated by the Bolder Boulder team that has been creating the Bolder Boulder 10k, a race that celebrated its 40th running this spring, attracts 50,000 runners, and is known as one of the nation’s top running events.

Fort Collins is lucky enough to be the site of the first event outside Boulder ever put on by this amazing Bolder Boulder team.

This year’s event attracted close to 6,000 runners who cruised through the streets of Fort Collins, ending up in the new CSU Canvas Stadium. The citizen event was followed up by an elite “chase race” in which runners started according to predicted finish times. Among the group of elite runners in the race was a special group of “army athletes” based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.

Among them was Susan Tanui, a native of Kenya, now an American citizen, who is in the army and runs races as an “army athlete.”  We met when she sat down next to me during a lunch the day before the race. We hit it off right away.

 I happened to mention that I had a very good friend in Fort Collins who is a native of Kenya. After the lunch we shared contact information and went on our separate ways.

Later in the day, I was speaking to my Fort Collins friend from Kenya about an unrelated matter when I mentioned Susan and ended up sharing Susan’s phone number with her. “I’m sure she’d like to be in touch with you, but better wait until after the race,” I said. “She’s probably pretty busy.”

Because Fatima is Fatima, she called her right away. Next thing I knew, she had invited Susan and five male “army athletes,” all from Kenya and in Fort Collins to run the race, to come to her house, and would I like to come over?

It turned out to be a very special evening. Fatima and her husband Mark magically hustled up a wonderful meal and we sat around a big table on their back patio sharing stories. Each person took their turn to explain a little of their history. We got to know each other. Turns out Fatima and Susan are both from Eldoret, the home of so many famous Kenyan runners.

Susan went to college in Dallas, Texas and Anchorage, Alaska, is an All American runner and currently the only female in the army athlete program in Colorado Springs.

I felt so privileged to get to know these runners. All are American citizens who travel the country and the world representing the USA. One of them told me how grateful he was for the opportunities America had given him.

Such a happy encounter resulting from a chat over lunch and a common love of running.

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