Marine Corps Marathon 2014 Photo

Running Your Race of Life
by Vernell Howell

Posted on Categories Love Speaks Daily

This week I am excited to feature my first guest blogger. Vernell Howell shared this powerful testimony and I asked her to share it with Love Speaks Daily. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, please let me know at artistandtheologian@gmail.com.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…
-Hebrew 12:1, KJV

This week I am excited to feature my first guest blogger. Vernell Howell shared this powerful testimony and I asked her to share it with Love Speaks Daily. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, please let me know at artistandtheologian@gmail.com.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…
-Hebrew 12:1, KJV

Witnessing the 42nd annual Marine Corps Marathon this past Sunday (October 22, 2017) of 33,000 runners was very meaningful and inspirational in three ways. One, it really revealed the true meaning “That the Race of Life” is a marathon. Second, it gave me a deeper appreciation for long distance runners. Third, I gained a fuller understanding of the Marine Marathon theme, “Run with a Purpose.”

A total of 994 men and 24 women in the first USMC Marathon in 1976. Later in 1984, the first cerebral palsy team of a father pushing his son participated.  Soon afterwards, Marines started pushing and running with their fellow amputee comrades in wheelchairs who had lost limbs in combat. A few years later a double amputee ran the marathon. He completed it in 79 hours and 51 minutes. It took him over a week. Each day he pressed as far as he could go, and the next day, he began where he left off until he crossed the finish line with 100 marines running cadence beside him.  The oldest participant to date was 87 years young when he ran in 1980. The shortest running times for winning the Marathon was recorded around two hours and twenty minutes or less. It has taken the longest runners six or seven hours to complete the 26.2 miles.

Why do the Marines rune? Most of them will answer, “For love of God and Love of Country.” However, many people who run today do so for many other causes such as illness, diseases, poverty, and the loss of loved during a war. My daughter, Tonja Howell Jolly, stared over seven years ago running to support research in the fight against leukemia and lymphoma. To date, she has raised over $10,000 in donations for blood research.

The long-distance runners do not wake up one day and decided they are going to run a marathon. In the words of my daughter, “You must train your body, your mind and your soul. This can be difficult but you must overcome fears of not making the distances in certain time periods or cramped muscles and concentrate on positive things. Think and remember those techniques and lessons you have learned from coaches, friends, and loved ones. Remember the prayers and sacrifices of all, including the Almighty Savior, and it will carry your over the finish line.”

Mission Accomplished
Seeing my daughter finish the marathon and wear her earned medal around her neck brought me so much joy, love and happiness for a job well done. Tonja completed her marathon in 6:55:21 with a pace of 15:15 @ 3:07pm. She has been faithful over a few things and now, He will reward her with greater things says our Lord and Savior.

As the enthusiasm and excitement dies down, I see Tonja walking toward me with huge tears all over her face but yet she smiled saying, “I have something to give you. My coach, Bob Schniedwind, just completed this marathon and wants to give you his medal. Unbelievable. He said you are to take it, wear it with pride for successfully fighting lymphoma.”  He then walked and placed the medal around my neck. Hugs and kisses were exchanged all over the place. Bob’s final words were, “This is why we run and will continue to do so until we find a cure.”  Bob, a veteran of many marathons, could have run the race much faster but he stayed with Tonja, encouraging her every step of the way. What a testament to one who personified what we should do for others…extend a loving an encouraging hand to our fellowman.

I truly enjoyed being on the sidelines screaming, yelling and shouting words of encouragement to all of the marathon participants.  I was moved with tears of joy and appreciation, especially for amputee runners, parents pushing loved ones with cerebral palsy, “senior saints,” and finally family members running with huge color posters of loved ones posted on their backs who died in combat. At the end of the day, I asked myself, “Will this be just another event or memory stored in my brain or will it spur me to further action?”

My answer: I am committed because of what I have been through in my life, including the loss of parents, extended military deployments of my husband and son, and my long “against the odds” battle against lymphoma, which included being on life support twice to beat cancer. I am committed to run my race for life for life as if it is a MARATHON! Hebrews 12:1 speaks to me…RUN with PATIENCE the RACE that is set before me. Also, I will remember that the RACE is not given to the SWIFT but to those who endure to the end. Lastly, I will renew my commitment to adhere to the guidance of Philippians 3:13-14…forget those things that are behind and press toward the mark of the High Calling of God in Jesus Christ.” Won’t you come over the finish line with me?

Submitted by Vernell Howell
This devotion was shared with the Trinity Choir on October 26, 2017.

We at Love Speaks Daily, thank Vernell Howell for sharing her talents with us. Remember, if you are interested in being a guest blogger, please let me know at artistandtheologian@gmail.com.