COURIER staffer reflects during Run for the Red

Memorial Day is a holiday that brings together family and friends, whether with an afternoon barbecue, trip to the beach or dip in the backyard swimming pool. It brings with it a feeling of summer, of nostalgia, evoking memories of time spent hanging with friends and family around a bonfire or picnic table.

“A sense of camaraderie,” added Linda Troyer, chatting with my father (John Hartnett) and me in the Monday morning sunshine before we embarked on the Claremont Red Cross’ Run for the Red.

As my father and I stretched and then took off from the starting line for the 3.1-mile trek around the Claremont Colleges, Ms. Troyer’s words had me reflecting in a more meaningful way on my own life.

When my editor asked me if I was interested in not only covering the Run for the Red, but also participating as a runner, I was immediately up for it despite my lack of long-distance endurance. I’m by no means a runner, having grown up dancing and pirouetting rather than racing, but enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone, especially when it comes to exercise.

My thoughts turned to my father, a man who is known for his love of adventure, borderlining on diehard at times. We always joke about my dad’s compulsion with exercise, his daily grueling bike rides and past marathons, his notorious “short” hikes that would end up taking us half the day to complete, and usually earned us a Slurpee at the local 7 Eleven. On this day so cherished by families, I thought, why not ask my dad to participate with me in an old pastime.

My dad was immediately up for our spontaneous morning date, as I knew he would be. He loves the opportunity to engage in exercise with his 5 children at any chance. We got our microchips and bibs and made our way to the race.

Though my dad could easily speed ahead of me, it was nice to have him there by my side coaching me along the Claremont Colleges route, which in itself brought back a lot of memories for both of us. As we passed through the track, I remembered daytrips to the Pomona College field where as kids we would participate in personal competitions or dad would help us swing from a rope that used to be attached to a nearby tree.

“Remember that tree?” my dad asked as we jogged by the lawn in front of Bridges Auditorium. Many a lazy Sunday afternoon after church we would lounge in the shade of those trees, eating pizza, running around and eventually begging my parents to take us to the little koi pond at Scripps. We even have a family Christmas photo with all of us kids hanging out of the tree like monkeys.

My dad pointed out buildings where he took classes while studying at CMC, then Claremont Men’s College, and I, in turn, shared about new buildings that have been added since I began writing at the COURIER over the past year. We again reflected as we passed the CMC dorms, where my dad used to live and where my family to this day continues to gather for a Frisbee match before watching the fireworks at the annual Fourth of July celebration.

I felt energized by these thoughts. Instead of focusing on the labor of the run itself, I was able to take a moment to enjoy the father-daughter bonding time.

Crossing that finish line side-by-side with my dad reminded me of the importance of my family and loved ones. It reminded me of the good times, even the little things, in my past that continue to weave the fabric of who I am today. It conjured up an often uttered, but never overused saying: “Keep your loved ones close because you never know when they will be gone.”

Whether soldier or first responder, accountant, cook or homemaker, may we always remember, and find inspiration in, our loved ones’ sacrifices and zest for life.

—Beth Hartnett


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