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Forum staff reports, Published January 22 2012

Wagner: Every runner has a story to share

Bemidji, Minn. - Sitting in an airport, waiting to catch a flight from a recent race, the scene served as another reminder why running is such a great sport.

It’s a scene that plays out over and over, but it never gets tiring. Perhaps because everyone has their own story to tell, perhaps because I thrive off of talking to people and meeting new friends.

At airports, runners often are pretty easy to spot by what their clothes or the bags they’re toting around. Many are willing, sometimes eager, to talk about recent accomplishments or upcoming challenges.

Strike up a conversation with a runner and the time will pass pretty quickly.

One runner, spotting me across the room, came over and introduced himself. It was a quick chat, but a pleasant one. While he recognized me from my writing, I recognized his name from race times and qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

As a group of runners waited for our plane back to Fargo, I reveled in listening to their race stories and goals. While airports aren’t the most exciting place to spend time, the whole scenario proved to be the highlight of my trip.

Then, after crossing the finish line this past weekend at the Polar Challenge 5K along the shores of Lake Bemidji, I took a few minutes to rest by leaning against a railing and soak up the scene. Within minutes, I found myself chatting with a few runners. The conversations, light and friendly, once again reminded me how lucky I am to have the opportunity to participate in such an inclusive sport. It served as the highlight of the day.

Running brings people from all walks of life together for a common purpose, and for this runner, sharing that common interest, with friends and new acquaintances alike, is what makes the sport special and unique to me.

Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer Editor Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at runningspud.areavoices.com.

He can be reached via email at swagner@bemidjipioneer.com