On Saturday, May 20, I will be running my 10th half-marathon. My husband, Al, and I started running about seven years ago and since that time, we've participated in more than 170 races - distances include 5Ks (3.1 miles), 10Ks (6.2 miles), 10-milers and half-marathons (13.1 miles).
As I reflect back on my running journey, I think about all the different people - the different runners - I've met and there is one that always comes to the forefront. Arne Robertson.
If you are part of the running community, whether here in Alexandria, or Glenwood, Fergus Falls, Detroit Lakes or as far away as Fargo, North Dakota, you've probably heard of Arne. He's got quite the following.
Why? Because Arne, who just turned 40 in February, has a heart of gold and is one of the most inspiring runners you'll ever meet. He never gives up. He just keeps going and going. He perseveres despite the challenges he faces on a daily basis. And he does so with the biggest, best, brightest smile on his face. His eyes are always twinkling, his voice is unmistakable and his laughter is boisterous - contagious even. His determination is unwavering. And, he is always happy. Or at least he appears to be happy.
I learned that when Arne was a young child, he was diagnosed with ADD, OCD and he also battles depression and has anxiety issues. But that doesn't stop him. In fact, running has provided an outlet for Arne. It helps him cope with everything he's got going on.
I "follow" Arne on Facebook - on his personal page as well as his running inspired page simply titled, "Running with Arne Robertson."
Last Saturday, May 6, I had the pleasure of running into Arne again (no pun intended!) at the Minnewaska Warmup 10K in Glenwood. I saw Arne out of the course and as I jogged past him, I gave him a high-five and reminded him how awesome he was doing. He was struggling a bit and he told me he was having a hard time breathing. I told him I understood (I have asthma, so truly, I get it), but that he could do it. I told him to just keep going. And the thing is, I already knew he would. Because that's Arne. He just keeps going; putting one foot in front of the other.
Through an email and Facebook chat with Arne recently - he didn't know I was going to be writing about him - I learned that he's been running for nearly four years. And, he's participated in 33 races including two 5Ks, nine 10Ks, 12 - yes, TWELVE - half marathons (that's 13.1 miles), three marathons (that's double the distance, so 26.2 miles) and two beer runs. He let me know, though, that he finished two out of the three marathons. And that's not all. He also ran a 3K race and completed one triathlon and one duathlon.
I asked him what he likes about running and what keeps him going, because I know how tough it can be sometimes and how easy it would be to just give up. Through running, he's learned that his body is capable of more than he thought and what keeps him going is seeing the progress of other runners on Facebook or other social media sites.
"It motivates me to do more and sometimes, that's not easy," Arne said. "But it is all worth it. Our running family is a special group of people."
I agree with him wholeheartedly. Runners are a special group of people and I am more than happy to be one. And I am even happier that running connected me with the 40-year-old runner from Fergus Falls whose determination and will are unparalleled. I am proud to call Arne a friend - and one of my biggest inspirations.
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"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.