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by Jerry Dietrich
Several months ago when Betty and I decided to add this race to the Distance Derby schedule we assumed the mask mandate would still be in effect.
How great it was to have the mask mandate lifted two days before the Mask-a-rade race took place!
For 16 years, greeting people on the Cushman trail was something I took for granted. Suddenly, 14 months ago, it was over.
Avoiding others became the rule of the day. Stepping aside and making abrupt u-turns became normal procedure. Wearing a mask became a necessary chore. After each run, removing the filter and putting the mask in the laundry became an automatic habit.
Racing became virtual. Trying to stay motivated and carry on a fitness program tested our resolve.
The end of the mask mandate came so suddenly that it seemed foolhardy. But yet, I knew from experience that once we had our shots, we were safe.
I had the same experience at age 14 when I received my inoculation against tuberculosis.
Tacoma had a large TB sanitarium back in those days and my grandfather was confined there by health officials as he waited to die. The rest of us in our household had tested negative.
One late, dark night, we smuggled him out and brought him home. I was the unlicensed getaway driver who kept the motor running while my mother and grandmother brought him out through the delivery entrance in his pajamas.
He lived his final 3 months self quarantined in a back bedroom in our small house in Roosevelt Heights.
Every day we expected health officials or the police to knock on our door, but it never happened.
Every afternoon my grandfather sat by his window smiling. Our backyard faced the woods and nobody could see him from the street. He enjoyed watching me workout after school with my punching bag and skip rope.
Seeing him always made me feel good although the situation was sad. My grandfather was the male presence in my life and he and my grandmother taught me to read when I was four years old. They took my mother, my younger brother, and myself into their home when my parents divorced.
Following my grandfather’s demise, myself, my mother, and my grandmother, were all inoculated because of our exposure.
To this day I feel proud of what we did. It may have been wrong but I would do it again.
Seventy three years later I revisited those dark days in my mind. I felt that same fear when Covid struck as I had felt when TB was a threat. Covid was not as deadly as TB, but it was more contagious and became widespread much faster. Unfortunately, it has been deadly to thousands in my age bracket.
Today, as we emerge from that dark tunnel, I know from past experience that the vaccine will work and things will return to normal.
In person racing will return in July with the Run For the Pies on the 4th, and the Kent Cornucopia 5k on the 10th. Two great events!
And so, my Mask-a-rade run was a welcome experience. I awoke that morning at 7:30 feeling well rested. I went to the kitchen and made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Then, I went into my office and worked for two hours.
About 10 am, I checked the weather and saw that 62 degrees with no wind was predicted for 11:00 am. That sounded great. I dressed for running and Betty and I drove to the Gig Harbor park and ride.
I ran on the Cushman Trail and two adjoining park and ride lots. The course was one mile out and back. I did it three times plus a tenth to make 3.1 miles. Betty had a separate course that she ran. She doesn’t care for my course. She likes variety and woods.
What a joyous occasion! Running without a mask. I felt happy, naked, and weird all at the same time.
The most gratifying part of the run was being able to greet and smile at others I encountered without struggling to raise a mask over my face.
Many of the familiar runners that I see each time I run were unmasked and smiling.
The only thing missing was a Brunch with my Silver Strider friends following the race. That’s my next goal.
Only the North Olympic Discovery Marathon remains on the Distance Derby Schedule. Then, a new series begins. The Tortoise and Hare Series will fill the remainder of 2021.
We are excited about the Tortoise and Hare Series and are hoping for a nice turnout. Entries will open as soon as the schedule is finalized.
Mask-a-rade Results for Derby Players
Photo submissions formatted by Bruce Fisher