It was the first race I remember running. The Oak Apple Run in downtown Royal Oak, MI, in the summer of 1977. I didn’t run in high school but my freshman year of college I had started running with some friends from the dorm. So while home for that first summer I heard about this local race and decided to enter. I really don’t remember what my time was or if I even enjoyed the race. But apparently I did because today I ran in the 40th Annual Oak Apple Run and I’ve probably only missed three or four of those forty. And I’m guessing I’ve run at least 250 other races over these last forty years. There have been 5ks, 10ks, 8ks, 5 milers and 10 milers, half marathons and full marathons, races in 90 degree heat and sub-freezing cold, sun, snow, wind and rain, morning races and evening races, local races and out-of-state races, races I’ve won my age group and races I’ve been disappointed with my times.
I’ve collected a lot of race t-shirts from these races. Years ago they were cotton, then more recently they’ve been technical shirts that wick water away to dry faster. Many of the cotton shirts have become rags for cleaning, or were donated to Salvation Army. But one shirt I’ve kept is the one from that first race in 1977. It has yellowed some and shrunk some but I’ve still kept it in the drawer along with the newer, more colorful technical race shirts. It’s a good reminder of what a great run I’ve had these last forty years. Here’s hoping to have forty more!