While casually perusing the West Texas Running Club's website, I saw something unusual under the race results. I just wanted to verify my time in the 10 mile race from yesterday. Well, those results aren't on the site yet, but I saw that the results from 1978 are. Odd, I thought, but since that happens to be my year of birth, I opened them to have a look anyway.
I was so intent on looking for people I currently know in the running club, that I missed the first name of note on the list. The second, however, was unmissable: George W. Bush. Age: 31. Hometown: Midland, TX. Time: 20:11. (Not a bad time at all for a 3-mile race!) And just as my brain was still stuttering "Wait-- is that-- ?" I saw that someone had marked this particular line with three arrows. That's who I was supposed to see.
And I glanced back up to to the top, and noticed another marked name: Willie McCool. Age: 16. Hometown: Lubbock, TX. Time: 16:02. (Holy smokes!) This, obviously, was before he joined the Navy, before he learned to fly, and long before his last mission ended in tragedy on February 1, 2003. This name is, for me, a lot more exciting, only because he is a lot closer to my life. He lived in this city for a few years. I train at the Willie McCool Track & Field at Coronado High School. I drive by his monument in Huneke Park. I was standing in front of Coronado mere hours after he died as his classmates laid flowers by the school sign & hung up a banner in tribute to him.
On July 4, 1978, these two remarkable men, along with 65 others, ran a 3-mile race in celebration of Independence day. Another day, another race for the WTRC. It is remarkable that they may have seen one another-- it is an out-and-back course, and Willie, as the faster runner, would have reached the turnaround first. Did either of them even glance up to see the other one? Since we can't see the future, I suppose it didn't enter into either's wildest dreams that not quite 25 short years after that Independence Day run, Mr. Bush would be the president, presiding at Mr. McCool's memorial service.
Yesterday, 31 years later, I ran in the same race, for the same reason, on those same roads. Because I am a runner, as is Mr. Bush. As was Mr. McCool. I wouldn't trade it for anything.