By Cordell and Janice Vail
19 Oct 2003
A weekly email gospel message for the descendents of Ammon and Winona Vail
Many years ago.... I think that was before they had TV... ha ha ha I was a student at BYU. I went to a BYU football game. I don't know what year it was, it was just a long time ago. It was no special game. It was just a football game. But I can tell you that as long as I live I will never forget that game.
Just before the half time they announced that they had timed a BYU track race 26 mile marathon so that the runners would arrive at the stadium starting at the beginning of the half time and would be coming into the stadium all the rest of the game as they finished the race. They said that they would run the last 2 miles of the race inside the stadium on the track. That would be 8 laps around the track. That way we could see the end of the race. I remember thinking... so what. Sort of a boring half time event.
Well the half time whistle was blown and all the football players left the field. It was just quiet for a few minutes. Maybe even 5 minutes. Everyone was just sitting there wondering what was going to happen. They had opened the big doors at the end of the stadium that lead out onto the street. We just all sat there watching waiting talking to the person next to us trying to not be bored.
Then we saw this tall lanky red headed kid come into the stadium through the doors in a track outfit. He was just some runner. I don't remember his name. But as he came into the stadium they announced his name and said that he was a BYU ALL AMERICAN RUNNER in the marathon race. This kid had run 24 miles now and here he was in the stadium to do the last two miles. I just assumed he would be struggling to just run around the track after 24 miles. But into the stadium he came and I was shocked. He looked like he was just starting the race.
We all watched him go around the track. I was amazed at how fast he was running. When I was in the Army we had to run one mile in six minutes for our Physical Training (PT) test. After he had gone around one time I could tell he was running way faster after 24 miles than I could run my first time around. After he went around the 2nd time the announcer said that if he kept going at that speed he would complete mile 25 in a time of 5 minutes for that mile. I was astounded. On his 3rd of 4th round there were a couple of other runners came in and were running along side him at first. Within a few minutes he had gone all the way around and did what we called "LAPPING THEM" in track. He went all the way around the track and came up to them again and passed them again. What a runner to watch.
Well we were all pretty excited to watch this kid run by now. He was amazing. It was like watching a beautiful deer or antelope run. He was so graceful. His heels were almost hitting his back with each stride as he ran. I remember that so well. How could his legs go back that far. It was like poetry in motion to see him run.
By the time he got to his 6th lap with only 2 laps to go (the last half mile) then I saw the most amazing thing. This kid was already running 5 minute miles after having already run 24 miles and now.... NOW the last half mile he started to sprint. I could not believe my eyes. He actually started running like a 100 yard dash runner and sprinted all the way around the track two times. I could not sprint all the way around the track one time at my top speed when I was in the Army and I got a 499 out of 500 on the PT test. This kid ran two full laps at full speed after 25 1/2 miles of running. Well needless to say he won the race. Every one cheered and gave him a standing ovation.
I think of that sprinter so often. It is like he became a symbol of enduring to the end in life to me. So many times when I have been discouraged with my calling in the church and wonder why I can't just be released I think of him. Many times at work when it is so hard and I would rather quit than to keep on going I think of him. Many times as I think about the job I am doing spiritually to get back to the Celestial Kingdom I think of him. He is a constant reminder to me that it is not over until it is over in this life. I often think of that tall lanky red headed All American kid who had the fortitude to sprint to the end. I see him in my life as a symbol of what I should be doing spiritually. I see him as a symbol of someone who has the strength to endure to the end. I see him as a symbol of my life and the need to learn to be faster at the end than at the first. I see him as a reminder to me that because I am filled with the power of the priesthood and recipient of the gift of the Holy Ghost that I have no reason to fail at anything that I do. There is not anything that I can not accomplish, that is right, if I will keep going and give it everything I have got in life like he did in that race.
I doubt I will ever know that boys name, but I will never forget him. He changed my life. He gave me the vision of what it means to endure to the end as a person, as a husband, as a father, as a priesthood holder, as a member of the church and and as a member of society.
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