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Running for Team Safe Kids New Jersey: Ali’s thoughts & perspective on completing his second marathon

Running a full marathon may seem like an individual accomplishment, but when you’re a part of something like Safe Kids, you are no longer alone on the road. That’s certainly how it felt throughout the week leading up to the race as well as on race day itself.

 If you’ve ever been on a field trip as a child and got worried because your parents weren’t there – but were relieved when you saw the care and focus that you’re caretakers provided – well that’s how it felt on Sunday October 31st! As a dad who’s always looking after details like food, transportation, full tank of gas, spending cash, passports, visa’s, luggage, etc., it was so nice to know that I had a team behind me who was able to help with these details. It made me feel like a kid again, at least for this one day.

Dan Orzechowski and Allison Murphy, Safe Kids USA, looked after every detail to ensure that runners could maintain their focus on the challenge in front of them. From picking up race kits to supplying Metro passes to the runners, Dan and Allison handled it all. On the morning of the race, Carma Hanson, Coordinator, Safe Kids Grand Forks, ND, managed the process of getting us from the hotel to the starting line – right down to bagels and peanut butter for breakfast!!

The morning was pretty chilly and we wanted to get to the race sight at least an hour before the start. All us runners huddled under a big tent and got to know one another. I could tell that each runner was committed to finishing for the sake of the cause. There was no nervousness, no pre-race jitters – just pure courage fueled by knowing why you’re running.

The Marine Corp Marathon is known as the People’s Marathon. The streets are lined with supporters. At no point during the 26.2 mile course are you alone as runners. Supporters stand on the side of narrow bridges just to cheer you on. Of course I wore the Safe Kids t-shirt that was folded and placed in my race kit for me. As I ran by people, especially those with their children in tow, I could see their approval. Many would yell out “Go Safe Kids!!!”, and several reached out for a high-five. There are a lot of charities and other causes being represented by runners in the Marine Corp Marathon, but for me, the support I receive from all the contributing members of Safe Kids have always made me feel directly connected to the cause.

I am looking forward to doing it again next year!!

~ Ali A. Zaidi

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