Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Same distance-different runners...

A marathon is 26.2 miles.  No matter how you look at it a marathon is not a marathon unless the distance is 26 miles 385 yards.  It wouldn't be a marathon if it was 25 miles, no, it is 26.2 no more and no less.  Although the marathon's distance of 26.2 miles is the same-the runners who run it are all different.  Runners jog or walk up to the starting line, confident, scared, relaxed, worried, calm or excited-every runner is different. Every runner runs for different reasons, to loose weight, to accomplish a goal, to raise money for a cause-everyone has their own reasons.  As every runner gathers at the starting line, heart pounding, mind focused, we all bring our reasons, our feelings and our story with us. 

I have shared on this blog, many times why I run-and recently I have shared why some of our staff are running.  Today I want to tell you about our other marathon runner-Samuel Tedoe.  Tedoe (as we at SP Liberia call him) is one of our many amazing Liberian staff.  He has been with SP Liberia for a few years and is one of the most reliable drivers and overall staff members that we have.  He drives over some of the most challenging, brutal roads on this earth!  But he does more than just drive-whatever project he is driving for he always helps-if we are off checking on our project sites talking with beneficiaries-Tedoe is there helping with translation or anything else-he know what it means to serve.

Tedoe the trusty driver and amazing runner!

Tedoe comes to the marathon starting line with a story that is unlike any other SP runner. Tedoe did not leave Liberia during the 14 year civil war-he stayed and endured the fear that we have never experienced of literally running for your life.  In 1990, when he was just 16 years old, he and his brother, his brother's wife and his brother's aging mother in law fled from the intense fighting in Monrovia.  They decided to go towards Kakata-approx. 45 miles NE of Monrovia.  There were no cars available and so they were going to have to go by foot-however, the elderly lady would never be able to make the distance.  So Tedoe put the lady in a wheel-barrel and pushed her the 45 miles to Kakata.

If that was not hard enough-when they arrived there was a rebel checkpoint at the entrance of the town.  Tedoe had collected limes from a lime tree on the way to help keep the elderly lady hydrated.  He had put them in his pocket and as he approached the checkpoint rebels asked him to empty his pockets to search him.  When they saw the limes they got very upset and accused him of stealing and started to threaten him.  The checkpoint was at the top of a hill that leads into Kakata-they made Tedoe roll down the hill, back up again, and roll down again and again as they kicked him in the back and stomach-threatening to kill him. As rebels were discussing whether or not they should kill him, a rebel leader arrived and told them not to kill Tedoe.  He had said to Tedoe, "We won't kill you-but you have to take this old lady with you!"  Tedoe said he would.  They let them go.  Tedoe was able to hire a car and go with his family south, to Grand Bassa to their home where the war was not as bad.

45 miles.  Running/walking as he pushed a lady in a wheel barrel. Fleeing for their lives.  I have never had to literally run for my life. Never. And I pray I never have to-I pray no one has to especially Tedoe.  21 years later-Tedoe, with a smile on his face can't wait to run the marathon. Tedoe is a strong man of faith and his life is a testament to his trust in God.

26.2 miles the same distance Pheidippides ran in 490 BC to tell of victory of a war. 26.2 miles-the same distance Tedoe-who survived a war- will run on Aug. 28th. I guess some runners are similar-Samuel Tedoe and Pheidippides both running from war...who would have thought.

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