I had remembered for years the quick 30 minutes I met the Runner. It was indeed not a dramatic story, but I remembered him for some reason. I even remembered what he was wearing, blue soccer shorts, a tank top in the same color with a big obnoxious marathon number tag. He barely had any hair left. The guy was practically bald with a few strings of blonde hair. In his bright blue outfit, he carried a backpack in one arm and a coat in the other. He was trying to squeeze through the aisle and the bunch of people on the train to find a seat. I saw him passing by me, looking left and right. He probably left to another wagon to find an empty bench with both seats empty. The train was getting quieter with the freshly arrived people started to settle down on their seats. I finally could come back to my book.
Then the Runner came back to my wagon. He whispered politely next to me.
“Excuse me, can I sit next to you?”
I put down my book. From the corner of my eye, I quickly glanced all over the wagon real quick. There was no other seat but the one next to me.
“Yeah, sure.” I picked up my backpack on the chair and put it down on the floor right by my feet.
“Thank you, thank you very much.” The Runner said to me while throwing his backpack to the overhead above us. He sat down next to me, getting himself comfortable.
I couldn’t help but stare at him. He caught me staring. I had no choice but to ask.
“Aren’t you cold?”
He was wearing shorts and a tank top. It wasn’t freezing cold but it was still autumn. It was chilly out.
He laughed. “A little, I was still full of adrenaline so I don’t feel much. Maybe I’ll be freezing in a little.”
“Adrenaline from running?” I connected the dots.
“Yeah. I just did the Amsterdam marathon. Amazing event!” He raised his voice in excitement.
“Like today? The marathon was today?” I closed my book completely, wondering “I was there, didn’t see anything.”
“You didn’t know? It was a big thing.” He shifted his legs, trying to stretch them straight “I traveled every year to run that marathon.”
“Oh wow, from where?”
“London,” he pointed at the little English flag on his marathon tank top. “This year, I finally finished the marathon.”
“Oh, I see,” I nodded then I suddenly realized what he just said “You said you finally finished the marathon this year. You didn’t finish before?”
“Nope.” The runner smiled “Never before, but I finally did it this year. I ran all the way to the finish line.”
“Wow. So all the years before you didn’t finish the race? and you still came?”
“Yeah. How else can I know I was better than last year if I didn’t come?”
He was right. My eyes were wide open for a second before they blinked in curiosity. It was that simple. The reason to not come was never as good as the reason to come so he came. Sometimes, that was just it.
“Tell me about the other times you joined the marathon. How far did you get?”