God, I'm Too Young To Coach

A few weeks back the Run for God team came across a newspaper article about a young lady who was receiving a “Service Above Self” award for coaching a Run for God class in her community. Hannah Denman was just 16 when her journey began. Enjoy.

Ever since starting to run competitively, (around 2015) I sought for ways to share my passion for running with others. This desire stemmed from my understanding of the parable of the ten talents, which indicates that we are made not to hide our talents and to use them to bring forth his kingdom. I attend a Catholic school, and during my time in adoration and private reflection my mind continually went back to the question, “how do I use running to bring forth Your Kingdom?” I felt as if occupying myself so much with running was fruitless if I didn’t involve my faith, and would end up letting the sport become my god.          

I have been a longtime subscriber to the Runners World Magazine, and one day i was flipping through the ad section looking for local races. I saw a blue rectangular ad with the words “Run for God” written. This led me to look up more information on the website, and from then on the seed was planted in my head. My prayer life was occupied with thoughts ranging from ‘Lord how am I, supposed to bring about impact in the world? I am 16 and have plenty of time to figure things out.” to “If not me, who?” After a couple months worth of deliberation, I let His Will into my heart and decided that if the Lord was calling me to do this, then I must be qualified. It was not an easy decision accepting this task, but I took baby steps. The first step took me to a series of meetings introducing and discussing the program, then to buying into Run for God, and then planning out dates and practices. Before I knew it, I was speaking in front of the congregation on the subject and handing our flyers after Mass! One thing I struggled with leading up to the institution of the program was whether or not people would listen to me or respect me as a coach, and see the program legitimately. Finally, the first class arrived and with it was about 30 people. I was overjoyed! People were committing to themselves and their faith!          

Switching gears for a moment, each spring my church hosts their annual Kolach Festival. Our city (Cedar Rapids, IA) has a large Czech population, so this event honors the tradition built into our church by selling over 750,000 homemade kolaches to anyone who can get their hands on them. While the baking in happens in the kitchen, we have carnival rides and different events going on over the course of a weekend in June. This is relevant because when brainstorming which 5k the group should attend, myself and one of the Festival supervisors decided that we should host a 5k at the festival. So, I took this project on. Emailing potential sponsors, getting permits from the city, making signs and T-shirts, and coaching Run for God is how I spent my time. Again, I was leery of bringing this idea into actuality due to my youth, but I knew that the Lord would guide me. They say that God does not choose the qualified, but qualifies His chosen, and I lived this truth the entirety of the spring of 2019.          

Prayer, reflection, and dedication to His will allowed the first ever ‘Blazin Bohemie Kolach Festival 5k’ to happen, where we had around 35 competitors, 2 sponsors, and about 600$ profit going back to the Church. Completing Run for God and coordinating the 5k are some of the greatest accomplishments of my life, and I am extremely grateful to have been able to do so before my 18th birthday. This was possible wholly to the will of God, and was supported by the committee of parishioners who believed in me and trusted in what Run for God could do for our Church. I cannot express my appreciation enough for everyone involved, and to your program for enriching our Church.

Hannah Denman