"Three Special Friends" by Amy Capps (Charlotte, NC)

Saturday was a mile-marker in my running career. I finished the Grandfather Mountain Marathon! I didn't make it in the five hour time frame…I missed it by 39 minutes…but it was such a great accomplishment for me that it didn't matter how long it had taken! This was my seventh marathon, by far the toughest physically. I had some very special friends helping me accomplish my goal. Thanks to them, I was able to finish…vertically!

One of my friends is Ron Horton. He has coached me and run with me through 6 other marathons. (He deserves an extra medal for that!) He has carried my Gatorade…usually a flavor he doesn't even like and has stood by while I have cramped, tried to puke and generally just about every scenario you can think of happening when you run, Ron has been there to help me through it. A great friend and coach.

Then there was Linda Griffin. Linda ran what seemed like a half marathon with me…encouraging me all the way. She didn't even have her running clothes or shoes with her! She just jumped out of the van when she saw the pained look on my face during the second half and she stuck with me whether I was walking or running. A great friend.

And last, but not least, Linda's husband, Mike Griffin, whom I now affectionately call "Dad"…even though he's my age! Mike not only got up at 2am to drive me to Boone, drove to the designated areas in his van to wait for me with a veritable convenience store of supplies, but he also smiled politely when he was asked by one of the other runners if he was my father! Another truly great friend.

Having friends that care enough to give up a Saturday to run and ride around the mountains in the rain while I run a marathon…that means more to me than any medal I could ever receive!