Today, I dropped off the registration forms for the Base-to-Base run on 17 March. The registration took place at the check-in counter of the gym. As the woman handling the forms started to ask about payment, I mentioned that Dave and I had participated in enough runs to qualify for free registration. Without checking a list or blinking an eye,* she said, “Oh great! That makes it easy.”
Then, she wrote “FREE” in the space marked “Registration Fee.”
And, well, that was that.
As I walked out the door, and walked past the start line of two of the previous races leading up to the Base-to-Base race, I marveled at the energy and dedication the Navy puts into encouraging its members and dependents to exercise.
All bases have a Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) operation who organizes all sorts of activities, including the races I am talking about here. Not only are the races well planned, they are well executed – full of cheerful volunteers, water stations, and a variety of locations and terrain. The cheerful volunteers always blow my mind; I am up and running at 8am on a Saturday morning because I know I will feel cheerful all day AFTER I run…how are they already cheerful?
On top of the excellent quality of the races leading up to the Base-to-Base run, they are offered free of charge! That’s right. You can run up to six different races prior to the Base-to-Base run for free, and as long as you run four of them, you can also run the big run for free, too. To this runner, it is a no-brainer incentive system.
In addition to the cheerful reminder of how much the Navy wants its personnel to stay fit, this was a reminder to me that no matter how many aspects of being a military spouse just don’t “fit” right, landing in a community of active, activity-oriented people was a great fit. Until I had the experience of meeting so many people who were eager to get out and run, zipline, snowshoe, play around, I did not realize what I was missing.
*Note: The MWR records your name at each race that you run, and the gym counter woman knows us from our frequency at the gym. Plus, this is a small base and the MWR coordinator would know if we hadn’t run enough runs to qualify for free registration. On top of that, I am sure they are going to double check the list.*