The 24th Philadelphia Distance Run was scheduled for Sunday September 16, 2001. Our TV crew had planned to fly east on Thursday the 13th after completing our post-production work on the inaugural Rock `n Roll Virginia Beach Half-Marathon TV show. But the events of Tuesday morning September 11th would change everything, from our travel plans, to our conception of the world through which we traveled. Yet even then running would prove an invaluable ally in the struggle to make sense of it all.

The Beatles “Yesterday” played on the Elite Racing telephone line as I waited to speak with Mike Long about our travel arrangements. The song was eerily appropriate to the mood of the nation.  “…There’s a shadow hanging over me,” sang Paul McCartney. “Oh, yesterday came suddenly.”

“The uncertainty of everything,” was how Mike put it as he scrambled to reorder flights in the face of an ongoing FAA ban.  “There are so many conflicting issues of security and economic impact of a flightless United States.”

Philly race director Mark Stewart was scrambling, as well, feeling like he was slipping into a deep depression. There had been so many bomb threats that his secretary wouldn’t come to work. He was trying to do the right thing, but not quite knowing what the ‘right thing’ was.

Sporting contests throughout the country had been cancelled out of respect for the national tragedy.  These pseudo-battles of ours pitting mighty teams in titanic struggle upon well-groomed playing fields somehow became horribly inconsequential, if not a pure mockery of what true battles we were soon to visit. Continue reading