By my estimation more than 1200 people ran the inaugural Stephen Strasburg 5K with Tony Gwynn this morning. I was one of them. The proceeds of the event went to fill the coffer of the San Diego State University Baseball Team.
Those who signed up received a glossy signed photograph of Stephen Strasburg in Aztec regalia , two SDSU Baseball admission vouchers, an event t-shirt, a hair trimming courtesy of Sports Clips and the first 1000 participants received two Padres ticket vouchers.
As promised Tony Gwynn was in attendance. To my knowledge it was his first public appearance since his diagnosis and treatment for salivary gland cancer. Eight weeks of radiation, chemotherapy, stress and back pains understandably have taken their toll on him. Gwynn sat in a folding chair as fans recognized and approached him. Most wanted their picture made in the company with the Gwynn. He obliged each of them, struggling to his feet, wincing with what I interpreted as discomfort. With their pictures now saved to their memory card, some embraced him or shared kind words while others just left. Again Gwynn slowly sunk into his chair accepting quick respite before he was once again asked to stand and pose. In his chair his gaze fell upon the ground, perhaps hoping that if he avoided eye contact he might be able to rest a few moments longer. He seemed tired and his infectious laugh was noticeably absent. I pitied him, but noted his determination and steadfastness.
Padres broadcaster Mark Grant emceed the event, introducing Stephen Strasburg who lead the the participants to the start line. Strasburg and his family joined the crowd and jogged the 3.1 miles. The run crossed atop Montezuma Mesa, cutting between the campus buildings on pedestrian walkways and thoroughfares alike. The weather was perfect, the course was flat and competition fierce.
Passing through the finish line each runner was met by a choice of booths who all offered sustenance. I chose a Philly Cheese Steak and when finished chose it yet again. The refreshments were all free from the sponsors.
Wandering around I crossed paths with Channel 4's Jenny Cavnar who had just finished the event herself. We greeted each other, exchanging a high five, after no doubt both of us considered but quickly dismissed a long embrace Our conversation was brief but wide ranging in its topics.
The Padres Front Office also had a team of employees who participated in the race. I said hello to most of them, exchanging pleasantries and the status of shared excitement due to upcoming baseball season.
I introduced myself to Mark Grant again, not knowing if he remembered me from our first meeting several months ago. He inquired about my state of being and when we were done I still wasn't sure if he remembered me or he treated everyone as graciously.
That's when I noticed Lady Jane Mitchell from afar. She was fresh off the running course turning with digital camera in hand looking, hoping for someone to take a group photo of her and the Channel 4 and Padres employees. I ran to her. "I'll take the picture Jane Mitchell, let me!" And I did. I thought of introducing myself to her again but my shyness got the best of me. In the presence of Lady Jane Mitchell many a man has fallen victim to shyness.
I made my way over to a line that waited to get photos with Stephen Strasburg. He wore his Aztec jersey proudly and a smile on his face. With good reason, his event was was a huge success.