Running Toward Home

When the road stretched too long and their legs grew heavier with every step, Gil Clelland and Darryl Reckman started reciting names: names of people who worship with them at Sanctuary London, folks who drop in for a listening ear or just some respite, friends whose daily struggles are even more daunting than a 100-mile cycle-and-run marathon.

“We just wanted to keep going because you mean so much to us,” a limping Clelland told the crowd of about 200 supporters after he and Reckman outraced dusk to finish the 100 Miles for Home fundraiser on Sept. 20. They’d started from Kincardine, Ontario, almost exactly 12 hours earlier on a journey that would see them cycle for 73.8 miles (119 km) and then run a full 26.2-mile (42 km)  marathon en route to their home church in London, Ontario.

Sanctuary London is a community that began in 2011 to meet hurting Londoners’ need to feel safe, wanted, needed, and loved. In partnership with Talbot Street Christian Reformed Church, it brings “home” to those without homes. Sanctuary’s ministries, supported also by other churches, include meal fellowship, art classes, creative writing, drop-in time, and worship. Its programs have expanded to include a music ministry with a band made up mostly of Sanctuary friends led by new staffer Jeremy Jongejan.

One goal of 100 Miles for Home was to raise money to expand Sanctuary’s ministry among its street-level friends. Clelland said the event was also a metaphor for the grind their friends experience as they try to find food, shelter, and belonging.

Supporters from several communities joined them along the way, including a Sanctuary member who accompanied them on a scooter for the duration, and a runner from Exeter CRC who said part-way through the run that his congregation had raised $3,000—and joked that the donation was valid only if they finished.

“There were times when we said, ‘We should walk—this is crazy,’” Reckman said afterward. The men blew two bike tires and earned several painful blisters.

“I watched their endurance. I watched them in their weakest moments keep going and going and going,” Debra Franke said as a crowd welcomed the pair home at Talbot Street Church. “I know that God was with you and I saw Christ in you.”

The event raised about $25,000. It also drew diverse groups of people together to show Christ’s love with society’s most vulnerable members, Clelland said.

“People who have money, people who don’t have money—we’re all in this together.”

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