Note: Mason is the Chairman of 2nd Mile Missions’ Board. After many visits to the DR, his heart is truly for the people and projects of 2nd Mile Missions that bring hope for a better future. His passion not only for running but also for expanding God’s Kingdom is evident in what he shares below.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “Do you not know that in a race, all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
Running has been a part of my life since I was about 10 years old. To be completely honest, I don’t remember exactly why I started running, other than I watched my cousin do it. But somehow, my dad got me started running and he became my trainer. I’d run, and he’d ride his bike. Over and over again, we’d run the “country block,” a three-mile route from home, out into the country, and eventually the run would end back at home. Dad had the course mapped out, and we knew exactly where each mile marker was. He charted my pace and would always let me know if I was ahead and behind my goal pace at each of those mile markers along the way. Day after day, week after week, we ran this route. I’m not sure I could even guess how many times I ran the “country block,” but I can assure you, it was a lot!
I trained for a while before my dad enlisted me into the racing circuit, where I competed for several years. Every Saturday was a different 5k race in a different town. It was a lot of fun, probably because I experienced success from the start. I often won my age group, and at the end of the race I’d get called up to the awards stand to receive my prize of a small trophy or medal. It felt good to win, and at that age I didn’t have to worry about what anyone else thought. I just ran, and it was fun.
My running career continued through my junior high and high school years, and even into my freshmen year of college before I finally had enough. I was 19 years-old when I retired from running. At that point, I felt like it had become my identity and I didn’t want to be seen in that way anymore. So I just gave it up…I walked away from it and never looked back. (Except the one time I came out of retirement for one day to run the Chicago Marathon with my wife, Lindsey, totally untrained. A stupid decision, and I paid for it for weeks! In fact, the experience drove me right back into my retirement.)
Over the next 20 years, I thought about running a time or two, but just never found the drive within myself to get back at it. I always made the excuse that I didn’t have the time, mostly because of my busy schedule. Over the past 14 years, I’ve had a pretty busy job as the Athletic Director for Triton Jr/Sr High School. If I had any spare time, I certainly didn’t want to spend it running. Then in the spring of 2020, something wildly unexpected happened…the COVID 19 Pandemic. In some sense, my world came to a stop. School was closed, games were canceled, and I found myself with a lot of extra time. For the first time in a long time, it seemed God was giving me extra time, and I knew I had to make the most of it. So, I started running again.
It was a slow and painful process, but I gradually worked my way back into shape from March through December 2020, and by the end of the year I found myself running four to five days a week, averaging about 15-20 miles per week. In August, I turned 40, and thanks to this new lifestyle change, I felt the best I’ve felt in my adult life and I thank God for giving me the time to make this change.
On one of the final days of December, I found a challenge for runners to run 2,021 miles in the year 2021 and thought, “oh that’s cool.” I started realizing it would be quite a feat to accomplish this task, needing to run 5.5 miles per day, every day of the year in order to reach this goal. About this time, Lindsey, my wife, said, “You can’t do that.” Well, I still have a little competitiveness in me, so that’s all it took for me to say, “Watch me.” On January 1st, 2021, I set out on this journey to run 2,021 miles.
A day or two into this wild and crazy goal, I realized that I should heed Paul’s advice from 1 Corinthians, and not just run aimlessly, but with a purpose, so I decided I should “Run for Change” by creating a campaign to raise $20,021 for 2nd Mile Missions, an organization that has been an integral part of my faith journey the past six and a half years. I also decided that I should go the “2nd Mile” and create a virtual run from my home in Bourbon, Indiana to the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California – a total of 2,121 miles – to map out my journey and spread awareness for 2nd Mile Missions to help them educate, equip, and empower God’s children in Bavaro, Dominican Republic.
Paul challenges believers in 1 Corinthians to run in such a way to get the prize. He didn’t say to run half-hearted and stop when you feel like it. He instructs the church in Corinth to go all out, to run in such a way as to WIN the prize. Go big or go home! It’s a big goal! It’s a bold goal! But with your help, we can continue to share the gospel both at home and in the Dominican Republic.
Today (February 5th, 2021) marks 36 days of running. I’ve officially pushed myself over the 200-mile-mark (about 50 miles from the Illinois/Iowa border), and finally decided it was time to launch my “Run for Change” campaign. Will you join me on this journey as I “Run for Change”?
Your one-time, or recurring, tax-deductible gift, will help 2nd Mile Missions as we continue to provide resources for the least of these in the impoverished area of Bavaro, and share the good news of Jesus.
You can follow my journey at https://runningforchange2021.blogspot.com/ as I strive to live out 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Your donations towards my $20,021 campaign goal, along with your prayers for my safety and health along the way, are appreciated as I run to share the gospel. And after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.