When Rev. John De Vries of London, Ont., started the Boston Marathon this year, he was determined to finish; that he finished in under 4 hours—15th in his age category and qualified to run next year’s marathon—was a bonus.
His determination was born of his love for his cause and the people involved in it. De Vries ran this, his 19th Boston Marathon, to raise awareness and support for the Church Council on Justice and Corrections, an interdenominational group committed to promoting education about restorative justice.
De Vries, a member of Talbot Street Christian Reformed Church in London, is the denomination’s representative on the council and served as vice president for a number of years. During that time (2011-2014), he began running the Boston Marathon specifically in support of the council’s work.
While the Boston Marathon is a challenge for any runner, De Vries, 70, had an added challenge this year: fear. A September training accident with a bicycle resulted in a badly broken femur, repaired with the insertion of a steel rod. “I had to learn to walk and run again,” he said. Despite the difficulties, he decided to run. “I had promised earlier to run a marathon to help raise funds for CCJC justice ministries; I was determined to keep my promise and run.”
He ran at his own pace, not setting a time goal, but was able to keep up with the runners around him. Placed in the third of four waves of 7,500 runners, he was with people who shared his qualifying time. “There is no sensation like being part of thousands of runners,” he said. A marathon, he reflected, can be a picture of the Christian life. “There will always be runners ahead of you and runners behind you, but you all have the same goal.”