If Austin is a small town in a big city, then our running community must be a quirky little neighborhood. Or a bar, full of memorable characters, where everybody knows your name.
Back in the day, that bar would’ve been called RunTex. When I first became a runner in the late 90’s, I gravitated toward this iconic Austin running store and its newfangled runners’ forum. Oh, I met some colorful characters there. Many of them became life-long friends.
Julia Weatherby is one of those colorful characters. Julia went by the nom de plume Comet (I was leahruns). We “knew” each other through posts, but we bonded thanks to the Austin Runners Club. From June 2003 to 2005, I worked on the club’s newsletter while Julia served on the Board of Directors.
When I became editor, I talked Julia into writing a regular piece for ARC’s print newsletter, Running Austin. She called her column “Comet’s Carry-On.” See, Julia loved planes, and she flew a lot for work. Her Running Austin topics ranged: she wrote about her mom, who walked a marathon; trail clean up around Austin’s lake; the Sunstroke Summer Stampede 5K series; what it’s like to race on ABIA’s runway; meeting runners on planes (thanks, race tee!); working runs around business travel; tackling the NYC Marathon; and doing Portland’s Urban Challenge. Good stuff. I wonder if those articles are archived anywhere beyond the yellowed paper copies I can’t bear to throw away.
In a funny kind of karma, Julia recently facilitated a flying good deed. On Friday, Julia radiated joy as she regaled our regular bunch of coffee-guzzling runners and walkers with the sweet set of circumstances that delivered donated breast milk to babies in Houston. How Julia’s running tribe had found a helicopter pilot to reach hospitals isolated by Harvey’s floods.
Julia’s ladder of recommendations is a nice reminder of community’s power. That old runners’ clique came through; social media worked a miracle of quick connections. Facebook is truly this story’s star.
Man, the simple, casual way that people made something extraordinary happen is such a welcome tonic for jaded souls. I wrote about Julia’s philanthropy and posted the story on Top Trip Rental’s blog (“Austin’s Runners Provide Life Line for Harvey’s Smallest Victims”).
RunTex and its forum are long gone. My running isn’t what it used to be. But I’m lucky to still count Comet as a friend. And we’re all blessed for this neighborly clique of Austin’s long-time runners.