The other day, Friday, to be exact, we, my husband and I, were a part of an incredible feat. When I say part, we set up our band organ which we played at an event while this feat was underway. The Carousel Melodies Band Organ set the stage and served to encourage the actual participant to press on toward his goal. The participant was Elijah Miller and his goal was to run fifty-four miles in twelve hours. This was no relay race, Elijah was the lone runner.
We were at the “Rockathon,” a three day fun event, that was being held to raise funds for two special projects to be constructed at the Rock Rec Center, Trucksville, Pennsylvania. Events, to be held the following day, were a 3v3 Basketball Tourney and a 5K Pow/Mia Memorial Trail Run. The three days of events were planned to benefit two causes, the erection of a POW/MIA Memorial and the construction of the Matthew Benjamin Rondina Memorial Sports Field at the Rec. Our interest was mainly on the “Strong Run”, by Elijah and we were here to see him through it.
We did not know Elijah, nor did he know us. But he saw our performance with the band organ at the Luzerne County Fair and immediately approached us with a few questions. “Would we come to the Rockathon and did we have patriotic music?” That’s when we agreed to our part in the event, not knowing quite what we were getting into, but well aware of the Rock Rec Center, built, years ago, as an outreach of the Back Mountain Harvest Assembly.
Elijah had marked off a mile stretch along Carverton Rd., that ran along the highway in front of the church. It was this mile he was to run 54 times. This is over double the miles run in a Marathon. We arrived at twelve noon, and written high on the score board were the large numbers 23. He had been running since 6:00 a.m. and still had a long ways to go. Since Elijah was a new acquaintance, we wondered what motivated him to try to accomplish such a feat and learned that this event honored the memory of Matthew Benjamin Rondina, a high school friend who had died of brain cancer. We couldn’t help but hear some of the comments being made about Elijah. “He is determined to do this,” said one woman. “I told him he had better get some running shoes, and he has trouble with his knees.” We met up with his father, Pastor Dan Miller, who is minister at Harvest Assembly. He jokingly laughed, and said that Elijah’s show of determination and perseverance comes from his mother.
When the figure on the score board stood at 37, Elijah showed some signs of exhaustion. He complained of cramps in his abdomen and the afternoon sun was having its effect. His attendants massaged his body, drenched him with water, changed his clothes including his socks and sneakers and adjusted the supports he wore for his knees. And always, a large photograph of his deceased friend, dressed in his football uniform, motivated him to keep going. His friend’s uniform displayed the large number 54. Now we knew why Elijah had set his goal at 54 miles. After a short break, Elijah walked for several miles, then returned to jogging again. As if the running were not enough drain on his strength, Elijah did a number of chin-ups at the end of each mile, always between seven and ten. Then he would return to his course.
The community showed its support of Elijah’s attempt to honor his deceased friend, an ambulance stood by and fire trucks were on hand for the big bon-fire scheduled in the evening.
Hours later, at 6:00 p.m., the score board read “52” and Elijah doubted that he could make the last two, l-o-n-g miles, but, to the raves of the people who had rooted for him the whole day, he did it !. He completed the race, all 54 miles of it and he had performed over 400 pull-ups.
Elijah is Supervisor of Business Development at the Rock Rec, which operates independently of the church. His determination and perseverance will figure greatly in the construction of the football field in his deceased friend’s honor. After the accomplishment of this day’s feat, we can’t help but believe that this will become a reality.
We didn’t go back to the next day’s event. But Elijah, coordinator, must have been there, with his memories of the successful day before. His memories will remain prominent for years to come. For us, it’s an event we’ll always remember, too.