August 2018 Cover

A Cape tradition like no other

Cape Cod Life  /  August 2018 / ,

Writer: Marc LeBlanc

Falmouth Road Race

Marc and Paul at the Falmouth Road Race.

How a famous Cape Cod road race lead to a lifelong friendship

Did you ever imagine when you were growing up you and your childhood best friend creating a tradition that would shape you for the rest of your lives? Well, it was exactly that unique and serendipitous possibility that came to be a reality for me and my friend Paul. Our tradition began on August 15, 1999—our first Falmouth Road Race.

As teenagers, Paul and I were always competing in running, basketball, baseball, video games, attention of girls—you name it. Yes, it was pretty typical teenage-boy activity. However, on a few occasions, we would get so competitive that we couldn’t hang out for a few days after a game because one of us would get so upset about losing to the other. I still remember this one day back in middle school so vividly. In the 8th grade, I ran the mile run test in school (the fastest in the entire 5th-8th grades, I had thought). I had caught a second wind and wanted to rerun the mile. I only wanted to run again because Paul had to run the mile later after school—he missed the gym class that morning. I decided I would secretly show up to try to challenge him to make it into a race against him!

In truth, if we didn’t change our ways, we wouldn’t still be friends today. Despite our competitive, unruly nature, we combined forces during the summer of ’99 for what would be (unbeknownst to us at the time) a transformation into lifelong friends. Rain or shine, heat wave or other extreme weather, we both made a pact to run every day and train for the Falmouth Road Race in August. Wow, I said to myself, this is different; I couldn’t believe I was going to team up with Paul and not try to beat him at something. I only knew how to compete to win a race. At first we didn’t know the slightest thing about how to combine forces to run as a team. It was all about the journey that summer and how it taught us what we were really made of as individuals, and as a team. For once, we were wise beyond our years. It’s a great thing we decided to train and race together for the road race that year. In this particular race we would have to overcome the biggest obstacles we had ever faced in a race/sport.

This race day was full of the nastiest, grittiest rain, thunder and lighting that we have ever raced or run in. I said, “Hey Paul, this is insane, man. The rain is so blinding, I can barely see you standing in front of me. How the heck are we going to race this race?” Paul said, “Let’s just have fun and enjoy this race, no matter how bad it gets out there.” I then realized that this race was a strange test—the test in order to ride out the storm of the race, compete for our friendship, and to work together and accomplish something bigger than just running that day. As we ran through the rain for the entire 7 miles, something had occurred to me: I found my best friend.

We will always remember this day and the summer of ’99, for it turned us into true friends instead of rivals. To this day, Paul and I continue to talk about, plan and run this race every year, reaffirming our tradition holds incredible friendship weight. It’s my pleasure to say that we will be the best man at each other’s weddings someday, and I know we’ll be there for each other during all of life’s important moments to come. The 2018 Falmouth Road Race marks 20 years running in our Cape tradition like no other, a tradition that gave us the right of passage to becoming best friends.

Marc LeBlanc