The New Hampshire Reach the Beach relay race happened on September 18-19. This 200 mile relay event challenges runners to race through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Teams of 12 run day and night through some of the most picturesque scenery on earth, before finishing on the sands of Hampton Beach.
Calumet Lutheran Camp and Conference Center has sponsored a team for a number of years. This year four teams of 12 runners (48 in all) participated in the race and raised money for the Calumet camper scholarship fund. (You can donate here)
I am not a runner, but I wanted to be involved in the race alongside my friends. In conversations with the coordinator for the Calumet team I was invited to be the chaplain for the Calumet teams. I was honored to be the Chaplain. This is a new position for the team and I was thankful to be a part of the experience. My job was to pray for the team as they prepared for the event, to walk alongside of them as they ran and to continue to support them as we finished the race.
Throughout the experience my hope was to inspire, support and connect people to God. However, throughout the weekend I was inspired, felt supported and to deepen my faith in God.
Here are five things that happened throughout the Reach the Beach race which made it one of the best races ever.
- The passion — I cannot relate to the passion for running that many of the teams displayed. However, their passion inspired me to continue my journey of healthy living. All of the runners spent many, many hours training to get physically ready to run 15-20 miles within 30 hours.
- Hospitality – Throughout the race there were transition areas. This is where teams could take a break and exchange runners. At each area there were Reach the Beach staff directing traffic and volunteers were giving away or selling food and drinks. I was able to help with the Camp Calumet transition area for awhile. Calumet went all out to welcome the runners. It was amazing to see so many people volunteering to support each other and cheering for each other as they completed their running.
- The love of camp – There were more than 80 people helping at reach the beach for Camp Calumet. 80 people who spent three days running, setting up the transition area, cleaning up the transition area, lugging mattresses and driving vans. Was everything perfect? No, but there was a sense of love and support in the air. In the midst of stress and chaos there were smiles, hugs, laughter and grace. Calumet was able to connect with people and show the world why it is a special place for so many people.
- The love for one another — For awhile I was worried that I would not be able to preach the Sunday following reach the beach because I got caught up in the crowds cheering for one another. Even if you did not know the person running you were there supporting them and helping them make it to the next transition area. The cheering was the thing that people needed most. A friend and I were driving from one transition area to another to check on and support the runners. As we were driving from one transition area to another at 10:30 pm we remembered that one of the runners from our team was along the route. We slowly made our way up a long steep hill trying to find our friend. Once we did we pulled over and started to cheer her on. We cheered for her and encouraged her to keep on running. She told us later that it was very encouraging to hear our voices helped her give everything she had to make it up the hill.
- Leaving a legacy — All of the runners, van drivers and other volunteers are not doing this to receive fame or glory. They are doing it for a cause. The cause that we chose was to help get kids to camp. So many kids can’t afford to go to camp because the reality is that camp can be expensive for some people. No one should miss an opportunity to go to camp because of money.
So far Calumet has raised over $65,000 for the camper scholarship fund. Thank you for praying and supporting Reach the Beach. If you would like to donate to the team or if you would like to learn more about Calumet click on the picture below.