I received an email from the upcoming Grandma’s Marathon about race day logistics, including the start times for the running waves. The usual waves were listed below, but the last entry caught my eye.
Wheelchair & Adaptive 7:35 a.m.
Men's Elite & Sub-Elite 7:40 a.m.
Women's Elite & Sub-Elite 7:45 a.m.
Citizens 7:45 a.m.
Citizens. I love that. The Grandma’s Marathon calls the wave of runners, including most of us, the Citizens wave. We are Running Citizens.
What does it take to become a citizen? Becoming a citizen takes work in the United States and most other countries. Moreover, there is a difference between a lawful resident of a nation and a citizen.
- Be at least 18 years of age at the time you file the application
- Have been a lawful permanent resident for the past three or five years (depending on which naturalization category you are applying under
- Have continuous residence and physical presence in the United States
- Be able to read, write, and speak basic English
- Demonstrate good moral character
- Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government
- Demonstrate a loyalty to the principles of the U.S. Constitution, and
- Be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance
Being a Running Citizen is no different. No one is born a runner and endowed with citizenship. Citizenship must be earned. Perhaps, the rules of citizenship might be written as follows:
- Have a continuous residence and physical presence in the Running Community
- Be able to understand essential elements of running jargon, including races, gear, and shoes
- Demonstrate persistence and resiliency
- Dedication to improvement over the long term
- Volunteered to support others at a race as others have supported you
- Be willing to cheer on others even if your day is not going well
Running Citizen is a beautiful way to describe the masses that run that are neither elite nor sub-elite. Less than 1% of the U.S. population has run a marathon. Becoming a Running Citizen is not granted to everyone but is available to everyone. It requires an investment in time, energy, and spirit. For those that do seek to join, welcome! The running community has remarkable people dedicated to lifting themselves and others.
Everyone becoming a United States citizen is familiar with the poem New Colossus written by Emma Lazarus and engraved at the base of the Statue of Liberty in the harbor of New York City. The famous words could just as easily be inscribed at the start line of races throughout the country. It reads:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!