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On the Fourth of July is the Peachtree Road Race. It’s a 10k run through Atlanta, Georgia. There are 60,000 runners allowed to register. One person I know ran last year’s road race with a friend who had a bad knee. Evan said, “I’ve kept pace twice now with people I know held be back, but it was still fun to run.” This year he says he wants to run alone, which really means he’ll set his own pace.

It seems to me that there are several ways a person can be held back in a race. Evan paced himself alongside a person incapable of a faster run simply to keep an injured runner company, to be supportive of him. Neither of them will receive a medal at the end of the road race. They’ll finish, though. Even will run enduring the slower pace of his injured friend, and cross the finish line with the personal satisfaction of completing the run and doing so alongside his friend.

A few years ago, Evan ran another race up in Tennessee. It was a grueling obstacle course that required great endurance. He ran with another friend who, while in good physical condition, was much slower. They ran the race together, alternating walking and running, helping each other over the hurdles and obstacles. Fifty feet before the finish line, the last obstacle required that they crawl through mud covered with two feet of muddy water. As they emerged from that mud bath,

race officials greeted them and hung medallions around their necks. Everyone was a winner at this race. Everyone that completed the course, that is.

Supporting his friends was the right thing, Evan told me. He also said that he could have done those races better, faster, on his own. Evan’s extremely competitive. While in high school, Evan wrestled. He won many matches. He lost many, too. Losing was not easy for Evan. On his wall he has a dozen medals from tournaments he has won. Evan’s last season during his senior year was one of his best in his four years of wrestling. He placed first in several important tournaments, earning more medals and a few trophies. He contributed to the team’s first-place win at the State Wrestling Competition. For the individual competition, he was on his way to State also. One tournament was left. He was ready.

The team left school on Friday night to travel to the competition. They stopped at a fast food place for a small meal. Evan ate chicken and decided he’d have fries, too. The next morning Evan weighed in before the first match. He was four ounces over weight. He was disqualified. No second chance. That was an official weight. Evan would not wrestle. Evan would not go on to State.

Evan had been over weight before, but at those competitions the schools had pre-weight scales. That gave wrestlers the opportunity to weigh themselves before the official weigh-in. All it would take to shed some weight, and Evan had done this before, was to run in heavy sweat shirts and pants for ten or fifteen minutes. Evan had lost two pounds that way. But not this time. Four ounces of French fries the night before.

Evan may not have medaled at State. But he didn’t get the opportunity to go. Four ounces took its toll.

Evan’s a good guy. He’d do anything for a friend. But Evan likes life on the edge. Living on the edge is fine, but there’s always the chance that the temptation of four ounces of French fries will put him on the side lines.

. . . let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1,2.

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