By this point, Santa’s probably had just about enough of me.
For the past four years, I’ve written a “Runner’s Letter to Santa” for my Monterey Herald column; 2008’s version follows below. However, it’s not enough that I besiege the guy with requests in our local paper (which, of course, I’m certain that he reads) – because for each of the past few years, my 7-year-old daughter faithfully submits requests on my behalf also.
Last year, I described how she lobbied St Nicholas for a new flashlight that I would eventually use to get me through the night of my first 100-mile trail race. This year, when she asked me what I needed, I realized that I’m pretty well equipped for an attempted encore performance next summer.
However, she recognizes that there’s always a particular necessity that I’ll need in ample supply – so she scribbled the following lines into her annual wish list:
Yes, she’s sweet. Yes, she knows me well. And yes, I know how lucky I am.
So I think I'm taken care of for Santa's visit next week. Here’s my letter from the Monterey Herald.
Running Life 12/18/08 “Gifts of Giving”
To: Santa Claus, North Pole
From: Donald B., Carmel Valley
Re: Wish List
Dear Santa –
Hi! It’s your favorite Monterey County running columnist again. You’ve been great at giving me the stuff I’ve asked for in years past.
Honestly, Santa, I know that 2008 has been a brutal year. You’ve probably got people asking for jobs or retirement funds that have vanished, or for help paying mortgages and medical expenses. So I understand if the requests of one crazy runner fall pretty low on the list of priorities.
But you know what, Santa? Things are actually going OK for me. I’m fortunate to still have those things that are most dear, and I’ve enjoyed another healthy year of running. So I thought I’d help you out by sharing in the gift-giving this year.
Under the right circumstances, runners can be a pretty generous group – but we sometimes need a little bit of help. This year, the following gifts would allow runners to help others:
1. Continued success for local races
Almost all of our local road races were created as fundraisers for charities or nonprofit organizations. The more successful the race is, the more the charities benefit.
Unfortunately, in tough economic times, it gets harder to justify paying $30 for a 5K or $80 for a half-marathon, so a lot of races struggle to survive. I hope that more runners can still afford to help these races stay successful in 2009.
2. Second life for old shoes
Santa, I don’t have to tell you how quickly runners go through running shoes. Frankly, I’m kind of ashamed to admit how many pairs I wore out in the past 12 months.
However, just because a shoe is too broken down for training doesn’t mean it’s not good for anything. Most of the shoes that runners discard can still be used for many months by people less fortunate than us.
Luckily, both of our local running stores – The Treadmill in Carmel, and Fleet Feet in Monterey – accept used running shoes, which they redistribute to charity organizations. We’d like for those old shoes to serve others for as long as possible.
(Online addendum: there are plenty of national organizations who do this as well. Click here for starters.)
3. A Just Run program in every school
You know all about our Just Run program – right, Santa? It teaches elementary students all about healthy eating and exercise, and is an easy way to promote fitness and combat childhood obesity.
The program has had great results, but I’d like for it to do even better. Could you please help the adult volunteers in each school get the support they need to succeed, and help any interested parents to implement the program in schools that don’t have it yet?
And if for some reason you don’t know about Just Run, go to this website and learn all about it.
4. Shared blessings
New running programs aren’t just about kids, though – and I’d like to see the gift of running shared with more people next year, Santa.
Like I said before – running has been good to me. And since Christmas is supposed to be about giving, here’s what I’d like most of all: to inspire one person, or maybe two, or even 100 (but I don’t want to seem greedy) to start a running program for their own health and enjoyment. If you could somehow help me to do that next year, Santa, you will make this runner very happy indeed.
Thanks a lot, Santa. Best wishes and safe travels next week!
Carmel Valley, CA