Running is Ultimately an Expression of Our Spirit

At the GoGo Running All-Area High School Banquet, Dr. Wm. Richard Kremer spoke. We thought it was so powerful that it deserved a blog post. This the seventh post in a series of seven. Be ready to be inspired by his words:

Seventh and finally, Running Ultimately Does not Build Character but Reveal it. Running is ultimately an expression of our spirit. Regardless of how the external world measures wins and losses, we know from the inside that how we close that last hundred yards, how we attack that last high hill, how we respond when the guy or girl in front of us ups the pace — those challenges attest to the vitality and mettle of our inner being.

I suppose most of you are too young to remember the movie “Chariots of Fire,” but I encourage you to rent it for an evening sometime soon. One of the runners featured in that movie was a Scottish Christian named Eric Liddell, the son of British missionaries to China who returned to Britain for his education and became one of the most celebrated runners in the world. Eric Liddell was questioned as to how he balanced his Christian faith and his running passion, and he answered, “I believe God made me for a purpose. But he also made me fast and when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Liddell refused to run his specialty, the 100 meter, at the 1924 Olympic Games because its preliminaries were held on a Sunday, and he didn’t compete on a Sunday for religious reasons. Instead, he entered the 400 meter dash and won the gold. That’s where the movie ends. But, as the old commentator Paul Harvey used to say – “Here’s the rest of the story.” Having gained world-wide fame, with a life of celebrity and riches offered to him, Eric Liddell returned to China as a missionary, where he was eventually imprisoned in a concentration camp by the Japanese during World War II. I came across the testimony of a young girl who was also in that same camp, and she testified to meeting this Christian leader that all the kids called ‘Uncle Eric,” who kept improvising games to keep the kids’ spirits up. She said she and the other kids knew in a vague way that “Uncle Eric” was famous, but they didn’t know why. But they knew this: his enthusiasm and joyous spirit kept them filled with hope throughout those dark, hopeless years in the concentration camp.

The same joy, enthusiasm, discipline and purpose that Eric Liddell displayed as a world class runner were the qualities he employed in bolstering the morale of inmates in a desperate situation. Even the prison guards regarded his integrity so highly that they asked him to prepare their food. When Great Britain tried freeing Eric Liddell by arranging a prisoner exchange, he gave up his spot to a pregnant woman, choosing to remain with the other prisoners until they could be freed. Most of the other prisoners were indeed freed, but Eric Liddell died of malnourishment and a brain tumor a few weeks before their liberation. His last words were, “It is complete surrender.” “It is complete surrender.” Such was the way he approached his running, his life and his faith.

So, too, my hope and prayer is that when you run, you feel God’s pleasure. My hope and prayer is that you use your running to express the joy, strength, passion and purpose of your soul. For if you achieve this ambition, you will have
realized the essence of what the privilege of running is all about. God bless you.

Running is…

Dr. Wm. Richard Kremer, is currently the pastor of Garden Lakes Baptist Church in Rome. Dr. Kremer has spent most of a lifetime involved in track and field as a participant and coach. He would characterize himself presently as a “very slow recreational runner.”

Dr. Kremer was the indoor 440 champion of the state of Alabama in 1973 and was part of the Jefferson Davis High (Montgomery, Ala.) team that finished that year undefeated. He received a full track scholarship to the University of Georgia, where he competed in a variety of cross country and track events.

He placed fourth in the SEC Championships of 1974 and 1975 in the 600 yard dash, setting a school record of 1:11.5 that stood for many years. A summa cum laude graduate, Dr. Kremer was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and nominated for the Rhodes Scholarship.

Upon graduation with a double major in English and History, Dr. Kremer attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where he earned a Master’s of Divinity and Ph.D. in Systematic Theology. While in Louisville, Dr. Kremer ran for the Mason Dixon Athletic Club, continuing to win local and regional events while working on his Master’s. While running for the Mason Dixon AC, Dr. Kremer was part of a formidable distance medley relay team that included British Olympian Nick Rose.


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