Manners, encouragement needed here next Saturday

Published 12:34 am Saturday, November 28, 2015

Two years ago, Cindy Howard, her daughter, Elizabeth, Tom Albritton, Mr. Honey and I took a trip to Savannah.

As most good Southerners know, it is an iconic city, full of beautiful antebellum homes, the spectacular Forsythe Park, city squares, statues, and Southern hospitality.

The climate is nice; the food good.

But twenty-five months later, there are two things I most remember about Savannah, where four of the five of us ran in a half marathon. (Mr. Honey watched from the race from the comfort of the hotel.)

It was my first – perhaps only – effort at so long a run, especially judging by how little I’ve run this fall.

In this charming city, people lined the streets to encourage runners, held up signs, and hosted water and Gatorade stops in their neighborhoods. Somewhere around Mile 7 or 8, I saw one of those friendly Georgians holding a sign that read “You’re all Kenyans to us.”

It made this short, steady-paced woman laugh, and it still does. Because when you know you’re just in the middle of the pack, feeding on the energy of all of those around you to keep going, it helps for someone to acknowledge that for those standing still, anyone who can go the distance seems just like those famous Kenyan runners – fast.

That comes to mind because the Andalusia Civitan Club will host Andalusia’s first half marathon a week from today, on Sat., Dec. 5. Mid-week, there were 31 people planning to go the full 13.1 mile distance, and a host of others going just 3.1 in the accompanying 5K. But the hope is that with some warm hospitality and a good race, this event will become an annual one and grow.

Elsewhere in today’s edition is a map, along with estimates of when there will be runners in each mile. Make a sign, or simply go stand and cheer the runners on. One thoughtful person in Savannah left a yard chair and a box of Kleenex in her driveway. All such gestures are appreciated by those pushing their bodies to perform.

My other most-remembered thing from Savannah?

It is no secret that Mr. Honey is retired from the restaurant business and knows his way around the kitchen. He also has drug me to some pretty good meals in the more than two decades we’ve spent together.

But nothing – not one thing – I have ever tasted could compare with the simple, baked sweet potato consumed after that Savannah race in a charming cafe called Goose Feathers.

Let’s get our best company manners out and encourage those who plan to run here next weekend. I’m signing up for the short race, but then I’ll volunteer as a cheerleader or sign holder to encourage those going the longer distance. This time, all those half-marathoners will be Kenyans to me.


Michele Gerlach is publisher of The Star-News.