Since hearing the story of Meg Menzies in January 2014, I have been involved in one of the most supportive Facebook groups out there—Meg’s Miles. The stories posted on this page are often ones of success and perseverance, the comments are encouraging and supportive. Members have developed virtual relationships through their common experiences as runners and as those who want to share Meg’s story with the world. We all seem to want to be our best selves possible, and by doing that, we can go out and be the good in the world as a way to honour Meg’s memory. Somehow, this group has 18,000 members, and while not everyone is actively involved, I don’t doubt that almost 100% of the group enjoys reading a post or two each opportunity to receive an surge of uplifting energy to help them get through whatever challenge they face. Others may read the posts and silently add members to their own personal prayer lists.
With 18,000 members scattered literally worldwide, though, most of these relationships that develop will remain of the virtual variety. Occasionally, a few ‘Meggers’ will meet up at a race and say hello, sharing in unique opportunity to connect on a different level. We run together, we talk about how we became involved in MegsMiles and we share our running journeys with each other. We may hug, shake hands, laugh or even shed a tear thinking about why we have the chance to meet.
I was fortunate to meet up with one MegsMiles runner in Bermuda–Kelly–when we both ran the half marathon. We met up, had the pre-race dinner together and shared a few thoughts about our running journeys. It was nice to put a person to the virtual friend from Facebook, and we have kept in touch since.
Then this year, while on vacation in the US, my husband and I stopped at Meg’s memorial in Ashland, VA. We were travelling from Richmond to Harpers Ferry, and it was a stop I wanted to make since deciding on our itinerary. Chris humoured me and put it into our plans. I told a couple people in Megs Miles that I would be stopping there, thinking maybe I would have a chance to meet up with another person. One member, Keith, was very happy to meet up with me, and even went so far as to ask Scott Menzies to stop over as well. And then another member, April, decided she wanted to meet up, too! And this was all from a short mention in a comment on a completely unrelated thread on the Facebook page. Oh, and did I mention it was 10:30am on a random Thursday in May? Not exactly easy for those with jobs and other familial responsibilities to just drop everything and meet me at this location.
When I got to the memorial, I walked over and could feel the tears threatening. I stop for a moment in silence, then saw a car park across the road, with a man getting out and making his way toward me. It was Scott. I felt silly with tears in my eyes over a person I didn’t know, but he gave me a hug and said it was nice to meet me. My husband, who wasn’t sure what to expect, started talking to Scott, too. Then April showed up (in her cute little running skirt) and immediately gave me a hug. Shortly thereafter, Keith came along and we had a great group all chatting and getting to know each other over some shared (but distant) experiences, figuring out how we all came from our very separate and different lives to this one spot in that moment in time.
We shared running stories, including Scott telling us about his Marine Corps Marathon experience (Scott, I promise to get a bit of extra swag in your honour this October!), and through these stories, I got a more of an insight into who Meg was, as well as the love and respect Scott had for her. It honestly broke my heart. I would, in that moment, have given up everything I worked for running-wise to get Meg back for Scott.
Keith brought some shoes to place on Meg’s memorial shoe tree at the signpost from Heidi in Wisconsin. I watched as Scott found a place on the tree and Keith tied them on. We posed for a few photos, then I had the pleasure of a nice 2 mi run with April and my husband as a way to honour Meg in her home. After the run, Keith was still in the parking lot, so my husband and I had a great chance to get to know him even more. I can’t believe how richly blessed I am to have the opportunity to know these people–people whom I otherwise would likely never have met, but someone help my life to be better, richer, more full. I genuinely hope to meet these great folks again, perhaps at a future race. All I know is that I want to be a part of the good they are doing in Meg’s memory.
I hope to continue meeting as many Meg’s Milers on my life journey as possible. I feel that they are the people I want to surround myself with, the positive energy that is sadly lacking from so many people in this world. Because I know that whatever you surround yourself with, you become, and more than anything, I want to be that positive person. Thank you Meg for being who you were—someone that we can admire as a role model through your positive contributions and energy. Thank you for being the person that deserves this effort put forth by your family and friends to keep your memory alive. Thank you for helping me to discover an interest (not quite a passion—yet) for running and to challenge myself to reach for more in my goals. And most of all, thank you for the people who have rallied around your name, those who lift me up when I need a bit of extra encouragement, and those who are the type of people I want to associate with in life. Meeting Scott, Keith and April was the highlight of my two-week visit to the US in May. A true honour to put handshakes and hugs to the daily posts I see online. And people I count as my friends. I look forward to seeing them again as we all work to achieve the GOOD for you and your memory.