Monday, December 13, 2010

The Warmth Of The Big Chill

I had the chance on Saturday to participate in what has become an annual rite of the season for me. In 2008, my sister Jill asked me if I wanted to run with her in a 5K race that the Rutgers University Recreation Department puts on every December for children for whom Christmas would otherwise be something not at all merry. While I thought that first effort in December 2008 was going to be the death of me, it was not. The Big Chill 5K has grown more into simply a race I run - it has become part of Christmas for me. A wonderful, absolutely indispensable part.

This year's edition was held on Saturday. This was the first year in the three years I have participated in it that it was not brutally cold at race time. Do not misunderstand for it was most assuredly not warm at race time. Nor would anyone expect it to be. After all: (a) it is December; (b) it is Jersey; and (c) it is a race that starts at 9:00 in the morning. But unlike last year, when all of the participants practically had to be forced out of the College Avenue Gym and onto the street just to start the race, this year most of those who came to run and to walk were outside and ready to go with ten minutes to spare.

The Big Chill is an exceptionally high-energy affair - undoubtedly due in large part to the involvement of the RU community. There are countless volunteers present at "the Barn" (as the College Avenue Gym is affectionately known) on Friday afternoon/evening and early Saturday morning to help those of us who have signed up to run and/or to walk pick up our stuff and drop off our toy. This is after all a race for which the registration fee is paid not in cash but with a toy. Friday night on the way home from the office I swung past the Barn to pick up my race bib and to drop off my toy. When I got there Friday night there were already thousands of toys lined up from one baseline to the other.

And Saturday morning, toys and participants arrived in jaw-dropping numbers. By thirty minutes to race time, the gym was filled to its gunwales with both. And it was this year as it has been the past couple of years - a simply beautiful sight to see. I am not a human being who has a sterling history of doing unto others so I steal my sips of good karma wherever and whenever I can. Being a part of this event annually affords me a chance to take a full, hearty swig. And for as long as they do it and for as long as I can take part in it, I intend to drink from this particular well.

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Indeed it is.


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