Last weekend I ran in a road race that included me and my closest 6000 friends. This is so not my type of race. I am much more built for the small, “mom and pop event;” preferably one that would take me through the woods. And yet, I love this race. Why? Because of the visible and palpable displays of inclusion, camaraderie, support, and good will.

For instance, there were the pairs of runners where one friend, mother, father, or mentor gently and steadfastly encouraged along their struggling protegee. There were the festive and exuberant cheering spectators whose enthusiasm and energy, as my husband noted, “Lifted you up and carried you along, further than you could get on your own.” And there was the visible call for justice as evidenced by the signs that many runners were wearing on their shirts; most poignantly moving being how many men came out in support of abused, disenfranchised, and dis-empowered women.

Running along and taking all of this in got me to thinking about the parallels for living in a more just and supportive world. A world where we encouraged one another along. A world where we spoke out against injustice. A world where everyone was included in the race; where every shape, size, ability level, age, and color was welcome and got all mixed in together in a wildly colorful display of human beings moving together towards one goal. A world where, as my husband said, “It’s amazing how little time it takes for everyone to finish.”

This is why every year I come back. This is why every year it sneaks up on me and leaves me crying at the finish line. This is what I want. This is what I want.