Are We There Yet? A Look At COVID-19, Cross-Country Races And Finishing Strong
A Letter From Board Member Mark Richards
Fun fact about ALAN: Many of us who work or volunteer here are either long-distance runners, or we’re related to someone who is.
Thanks to my sons Tim, Ryan, and Aaron, who are all cross-country runners, I actually fall into both categories.
As a result, I hope you won’t mind if we “run with” that theme for this month’s blog (which was suggested by Ryan), which is once again all about COVID-19.
In case you don’t know, a typical cross-country race begins with numerous runners lined up next to each other, often in a crowd that’s several people deep. But as soon as the starting gun goes off, it’s a mad dash to get to the front of the pack, because the course narrows very quickly and there’s usually room for only a few runners to run side by side. Every runner is scrambling to establish a pace that will work well for them over the long haul, all while also dealing with the possibility of everything from steep climbs and treacherous downhills to uneven terrain and the occasional rock or branch.
Cross country runners say that these uncertainties and obstacles are a big part of what makes each race so challenging. However they’re also a major reason why even simply finishing each race gives them such a feeling of accomplishment.
So what does all of this have to do with COVID-19 – and more particularly COVID-19 disaster relief?
For one thing, the COVID-19 pandemic is also a cross-country phenomenon, one that started with a mad dash to keep supply chains flowing normally – and one that has created myriad extra demands that we’ve all been running around to stay on top of ever since. (And thankfully we’ve had a lot of help. Check out the Completed Cases section of our Micro-site to see some of the awesome work that our in-kind donors have helped us do.)
For another, the COVID-19 “race” has been fraught with many twists and turns, from encountering new food distribution challenges to addressing critical shortages of PPE and other healthcare supplies. And much like cross-country runners, we couldn’t always see those twists and turns coming. Which is why many of our days have wound up feeling like one series of challenges or obstacles after another. And why sometimes the best way we could respond was by simply continuing to put one foot in front of the other and keep on going.
Like participating in a cross-country race, there have been times when being on this journey has been exhausting, especially because we can’t really see the finish line yet or predict exactly what the rest of the course will look like. And admittedly it hasn’t always been pretty.
Even so, we know the finish line exists. More important, we know that we will reach it, and that when we do, we will all have many reasons to feel proud, because over the past few months, the whole supply chain industry has truly shown up in a really big way.
My son Ryan once said, “Few things compare to the satisfaction and joy that comes as you run through the final shoot of a race, cross the finish line, and enjoy the cheers of the fans that recognize and appreciate your persistence, courage, stamina, and willingness to put one foot in front of another.”
Even though it’s been a long time since I ran a super-long race of my own, I’m beginning to remember what he means. And that’s all thanks to people like you.