July 22, 2013

The Train of Life

Photo credit: Sylvie Vachon
Usually, when we go for a run, we answer a call from our bodies to go out and play, breathe and enjoy some time out in nature. Yesterday, hundreds of runners answered another type of call. We gathered in the village of Nantes, where about two weeks ago, a train filled with gasoline was left unguarded for the night, broke loose from its brakes and started a deadly descent to the town of Lac-Mégantic, where it derailed, exploded and killed in excess of 50 people, most of whom were enjoying a happy night with friends at a local bar.

Since that fatal night, all we hear about is desolation, grief and destruction. A local journalist and runner, wondering what he could do to bring at least some measure of relief to the disaster-stricken people, decided to call upon runners from all over Quebec to bring moments of kinship and support to our brothers and sisters of Lac-Mégantic.

The symbol was powerful; instead of a train of death hurling down the hill from Nantes in the night, a lively, colorful train of running people took the same route under the sun to bring much-needed hope and smiles, if only for a brief moment.

I was unsure I could make the trip until the very last moment, when my friends Nick and Josée suggested we share the ride down and join other friends on site. It took only a few minutes before we bumped into Jack, Sylvie and a group of friendly runners we ended up running the whole distance with.

Photo credit: Robert Skinner, La Presse
Among the crowd, running people from everywhere, men, women and children alike. There was even a stop that was planned at the 8k mark, so that the group could pick up non-runners and walkers who wanted to join the demonstration.

Upon entering the town, rows of people had lined up to welcome us, waving, smiling and wiping tears. We smiled back, cheered, blew kisses and gave high fives all the way, until the crowd and the long line of runners blended together in the town’s park where, for a moment, it seemed that all was right again on the hills of beautiful Mégantic.

Readers who would like to help in the emergency efforts at Lac-Mégantic can donate to the Canadian Red Cross Relief Fund.

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