Week 3 of my summer race tour took place this past Saturday while my family was vacationing on the Washington coast. As a person who grew up in the northeast then spent ten years living in Southern California, there are two things about the coastal Pacific Northwest that I will never get used to: automobiles on the beaches and unreasonably low temperatures. Call me crazy, but I don’t believe a sweatshirt should be appropriate beachwear in August.
Each summer we rent a beach house with a handful of other families in Ocean Park. While visiting last year, we discovered a run in nearby Long Beach called the Race Against Violence 5K and decided to sign up. The race is an out and back on the beach that’s as scenic as it is simple. It was my son’s first 5K and he did surprisingly well. So well, in fact, he won his first real trophy for finishing 2nd in the kids division. (I refuse to count all the “participation” trophies they give to kids nowadays for just showing up.)
This year Jack was looking to repeat his accomplishment and bring home more silverware. As for me, I was also hoping to bring home a trophy as well. In last year’s race, I finished only a few spots out of the men’s top three. I knew with a little extra effort and a few less competitive male runners, I’d be able to move into one of the top spots.
The small field didn’t let me down and I was miraculously the second fastest runner with a Y chromosome. Presumably the young guy who finished third (and looked like he could run circles around me) pulled a muscle or perhaps decided to crawl for part of the race. In any event, I was able to earn my first trophy since college when I received an award for video editing.
As exciting as that was for me, I was more thrilled for Jack who was the fastest of the children (under 12) who participated. He was very excited to get the first place finish and I was a proud dad who was happy to see his son’s strong summer of running continue.
Unfortunately, the only reason my family and I get to participate in this delightful race is because six years ago a Long Beach woman was needlessly slain by an irredeemable asshole. On September 11th, 2009 Lisa Bonney was gunned down by her former boyfriend. He was convicted, though there are now issues with the sentencing phase that may lead to him being in jail for less than forever, which is way too short a period of time.
The Race Against Violence was started to honor Lisa Bonney’s memory and bring attention to the scourge of domestic violence. The race’s Facebook page also describes their mission to:
Raise awareness of domestic violence, educate in hopes to stop the cycle of domestic violence, remember those we have lost to domestic violence and to provide support and resources to victims and survivors of domestic violence.
Domestic violence (and all violence, for that matter) is horrible. It’s horrible for the victims and for the victim’s families and friends. It’s horrible for everyone. This is, of course, a simplistic understatement that doesn’t begin to touch on the damage domestic violence inflicts, but sometimes simplicity works.
I suppose the good news is that times seem to be changing. People seem to be more vocal than ever in their opposition to domestic violence; promoting awareness, advocating for victims, and trying to reduce its frequency. Though I doubt this cultural shift is any solace to Lisa Bonney’s loved ones. It’s probably even less consolation to these folks that for two consecutive years this event has provided my family with a morning of fun and fitness. Our trophies and memories will make it impossible to forget the Race Against Domestic Violence and by association Lisa Bonney, whom we never had the pleasure to meet.
Some races have humbled me with their challenging terrain or distances. This race has humbled me with its origin.