I met Malcolm (Mally) McLoughlin, like a lot of my Parisian running friends, on Daily Mile. This site has really been the gateway to a lot of fantastic relationships for me both in the "real" and "virtual" world. But, more and more I've been able to connect with these guys and share runs, races, and coffees together face-to-face.
Mally and I became real friends quickly. I remember our first lunch together in Viroflay talking running and ultras and minimalism and his crazy attempt at running the length of Ireland (570 km) in a week. Relationships are nearly impossible to define because describing why you "like" someone or are friends with them is much the same as describing why pizza sounds so good the evening after a long run or why jazz music is so transcendental. Sure, there are measurable realities like shared interests, experience, or beliefs, but much of friendship is subjective. You just kind of "click" or you don't. It was clear to me early that Mally and I would really be friends. We both walked away from the lunch inspired and motivated not only to run faster/farther but to be better people.
One of the most inspiring things about Mally is his relationship with his daughter. Pearl, named after a certain magnificent rock band, is autistic. So, like any kid with a bit of a disability, there are challenges for her and for her family on a daily basis. Mally is not content with just surviving but wants to give her the best opportunity to succeed in life, and he feels that way about other autistic children and their respective parents. Because of this commitment and passion, Mally started an organization called Running for Pearl (www.runningforpearl.com) a few years ago to raise awareness and support for those affected by autism. He's raised quite a bit of money as well as created a support network for many who haven't yet gotten the help they need.
As a pastor, my job is to encourage the spread of the kingdom of God. This happens in many ways, but I believe, is always connected to the heart and love of God through Jesus, which I have seen in Mally's commitment and pursuit of support for his own daughter and those affected by autism.
This is why I have decided to run my non-club races as part of the Running for Pearl team. I went out, bought a jersey, got the organizational logo from Mally, had it imprinted and then started publicizing. It's actually very easy. I wore the jersey for the first time at my half-marathon in Vincennes where I was proud to PR in 1:16:15 as a member of his team. I will also be trying to run sub 2:45 in Toulouse for my upcoming marathon as a Runner for Pearl.
There is nothing crazy about this commitment or partnership except that it involves a very special little girl and her great dad. I would love to encourage all of you who run regularly to think about partnering with a group that excites you and can make a difference in the world. Ryan Hall's Steps foundation is a great example but there are countless others.
For me, running is intensely personal. It's selfish in many ways in terms of how much time I spend training and preparing, but when it comes to race day, I like to think I can be running for someone else as well. Personally, that always involves dedicating every action to God but it's also fun to make a tangible impact for others.
Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have interest in joining the Running for Pearl team or if you'd like advice on other opportunities to use this great sport for a great cause.