Dear marathon runner, participants & volunteers,

Dear marathon runner, participants & volunteers,

As I’ve been thinking about you, dear runners, it’s quite amazing. Our bodies can do incredible things! You—whether you are running 13.1 or 26.2 miles—are embarking on an incredible feat: your feet are running, pacing, jogging, walking, enduring.

Yes, our bodies endure so much on this life I am realizing. Looking down at mine: cancer, chemotherapy, radiation three times now. Looking up at yours: stretching, running, walking, pushing wheelchairs, breathing. It amazies me to think about how much we can put our bodies through here on earth, even though they are truly oh so frail and temporary.

I will watch you all in amazement tomorrow. You might think my body is incredible but truly I have done nothing but sit and rest and hope and rely on the Strength that is truly outside of myself. I can only boast in my weakness because He provides the strength, truly truly. (2 corinthians 12:9-10)

Although I have never ran a marathon—and I will never get the opportunity to in this life, metal bone replaced once cancer-destroyed femor—I am realizing that both of our seemingly outward physical tests (me, cancer; you, marathon) are actually mental tests. Trust me, my body has been drained of all energy, my eyesight unclear and hazy from chemotherapy. They physicality of treatment and cancer are indeed real and solid and true. Similarly, your legs becoming tired, the cramps coming, the pounding of joints on pavement indeed brings physical pain and strain. But what keeps you going?

What has kept me going? I have learned that our bodies endure because of our mental, and that truly the majority of battles have not been against cancer or chemo but against my very own mind: the anxieties, the depression, the anger, the fear, the doubts. My very own thoughts within my mind are like its own separate thought-tumor that only the Word of Truth alongside prayer and friends and family have been able to decrease and cease their growth.

Determined. I know this is this year’s word to cling to for the marathon. Our minds will us to be determined, reminding our bodies and spirits. I am determined because I ultimately know where I am going when I finish this race of life (philippians 3:12-14) and I know who will hand me the eternal crown and medal in rewarding of my service to Him. It is from my knowledge of Whose I am and where I am going that have enabled me to persevere and keep going. And those who have surrounded me over the years—my family, my friends, my church, the amazing staff at Nationwide Children’s Hospital—who bring me constant reminders and assurance of these ultimate truths and that there is a final, restful destination. Just as they have reminded me of truths, helped me and cheered me, I’m grateful to now be on the other side of this race of yours and cheer you on.

See you at mile 20, honey!

2 thoughts on “Dear marathon runner, participants & volunteers,

  1. Thank you for this Jenna Barnett! Words cannot explain how truly grateful I am that I read your words tonight. You have renewed my motivation and determination and helped me remember what this race is all about. God bless you! I hope to meet you at mile 20!

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  2. You are amazing! I wish I could run a marathon but… not a runner. God bless you and the people who came out to run and support! I love you my “gift from God.” this was a great article! 😉

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