Runner's Web

If Archie Andrews Were A Runner

Of Archie Andrews and the Vancouver Marathon - Published June 4, 2002

Remember those Archie comics? Betty wants Archie but Archie wants Veronica but Veronica is never sure if she wants Archie or not, just that she doesn't want Betty to have him until she makes up her mind. Remember that stuff? Well, it all came together for me during the 26th Vancouver International Marathon.

Actually, it all happened between 20 and 26.2. As it usually does for us first time marathoners. The seductive downhill stretch of the Burrard Street Bridge seemed the perfect place to begin catching up to the modest 10 minute/mile pace I had kept steadily from the Plaza of Nations through Gas Town to Lumberman's Arch, but had discarded before exiting Stanley Park. I had some regrets about leaving Betty; a beauty in running tights and water bottle bandolier. We had hooked up at mile 5 where she began keeping a watchful eye over me through countless water stations and Gatorade gulpings. A vet, she bubbled with energy and banter, making the miles melt easily away. But I ditched her on the bridge to keep a date with a 4:20 Veronica.

By the time I reached Jericho Beach I was back on track. But that's when the cramping and the stitches joined my aching quads in a unified statement protesting their current working conditions. I made some concessions to avoid a general strike and eased my pace, watching Veronica's ebony locks bobbing and weaving their way through the ever growing crowd of runners in front of me.

And then, just before Kits Beach, she sidled up beside me. If the truth be known, I was so focused on my loss of Veronica and my current survival struggle, that it took more than a moment to register with me that it was Betty. My Betty! My heart soared! Oh happy, happy day! But as we exchanged a few gasped syllables, it became clear to me that this was no second chance being offered. There was no glad handed opportunity for redemption here. Nope, she soon disappeared around the corner leading to the McMillan Planetarium on her way to her own 4:30 date.

That was when I imagined a single senior citizen Archie sadly remembering the gorgeous blond who threw herself at him in his youth, while he obliviously continued his vain pursuit of the seductive Veronica. "Our spirits are one," I concluded as the Betty I had spurned slowly became as unattainable as the Veronica who had run off on me during my cramping dance three miles ago. I was left with nothing but the road and my thoughts, neither one of which was all that pleasant.

To be honest, the final three miles were nothing. "Nothing that a few thousand dollars of therapy won't remedy," I thought to myself as I neared the end.

And then I finished.

Crossing the line was a surreal blend of stopping but not fully believing I had. The 4:37:13 medallion slipped silently over my head and nestled gently onto my neck. I surveyed the scene, humbly existing, gratefully being.

And then she was in my arms. "You did it," she cooed, and my tears blended effortlessly with sweat in a duet of spirit and will. "I am so proud of you," she murmured, and I held her close.

Not really knowing what to say, I remained silent. Not really knowing what to think, I let my mind be. Later I would wonder what had possessed me to chase Veronica, but for now I rested in contentment. Betty had come back to me.

Mark Loewen
Physical Education/Athletics
WJ Mouat Secondary School
Abbotsford, BC
V2T 4E9
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