This week’s run of the week goes to Sean with his “Path to Victory #125” Sean has been running this route with incredible consistency throughout the year, and while I could wax poetic about the steady decline in pace, or the monastic simplicity of his Path to Victory goals, what really sets this run apart is what happened to Sean mid-run, which I’ll let him explain in his own words (taken from Sean’s personal Facebook).
“Well…if finally happened, Folks!! After all these years of running back and forth over the “Suicide Bridge” I finally encountered my first jumper today.
The actual name of the bridge is the Victory Bridge and it was finished in 2005 and it’s 110 feet off the surface of the Raritan River below. This is the time of year that people tend to jump over, call it the holiday blues or whatever, but we are smack in the middle of jumping season. If more than 2 go over in a year, the Perth Amboy cops shut down the sidewalk to pedestrian traffic till Spring and it really messes up my training run and screws with me spiritually.
So on today’s run, as I approached Pillar # 6, which is right near the apex, or basically where the red crane barge is sitting in the photo, I saw a car parked on the southbound side with the hazard lights on. My first inclination was a stranded motorist, people break down here all the time and I even saw a lady pull over once to scream at her kids so a parked car is normally no cause for concern. But I saw this hobo looking dude wandering around on the sidewalk and I thought, “Uh-Oh.”
As I approached, he said, “Hey Buddy, can you give me a hand getting my leg over the rail?” I said, “Why, are you trying to jump?” He said, “Yeah, my life is fucked, I got no money.” I said, “Not my problem, but there’s no way you’re jumping with me here, I won’t help you with that.” He said, “I got no money, I don’t want to live.” and he made a break for the rail.
I jumped in front of him and my bargaining instincts kicked in. I said, “I’ll give you all my money ($5 bill in my pocket) and everything else I had (my chap stick, my tums, and all my clothes and my shoes) if he got back in his car and drove back down. He said, “I don’t need 5 bucks I need REAL money” and then he grabbed the rail and looked over.
He said, “It doesn’t look that far.” I said, “It’s only 110 feet. Everyone that jumps off lives (a lie)”. I said, “The water is calm, you’ll just hit the surface and pass out then you’ll drift to the shore and when the cops pick you up, they’ll be pissed and they’ll give you a fine.” I said, “They’ll take you to Raritan Bay medical center and it will take a team of doctors to revive you and they got no time for that, they’re busy as hell this time of year.” I said, “When you wake up, the first thing you’ll see is me and I’m gonna kick your ass right there in the hospital. ” I had no idea what I was doing so I just kept talking in a very authoritative tone and kept pointing, first at him, that at his driver’s seat.
Just as I was running out of interesting things to say, just before I started begging, he took a step away from the rail toward his car. I took this as my moment to act. I jumped in between him and the rail and I said, “OK, now you have to get back in the car and drive down because you can’t jump with me standing here.” He said, “Oh yeah, who the fuck are you?” I said, “I’m the Parakeet of Protection and NOBODY jumps on my watch.” Now, I was yelling loud and my finger was about 2 inches from his face.
Maybe it was my threat, maybe his rational mind kicked in, or maybe he just remembered a hidden stash of $ somewhere, but something changed after that and I saw his shoulders droop and he took a VERY deep breath and he took 2 steps away from the rail and toward his car. He wasn’t going to jump and it was time to make good on my promise. I took Abe Lincoln out of my pocket and handed him my champ stick and tums and started taking off my shirt. Luckily, he decided not to hold me to my promise and he got in his car and turned off the hazards and started driving down.
I thanked him profusely for that. I would not have a suicide on my conscience and I would not need to run the remaining 5.2 miles home butt naked in the cold rain. I ran after his car to make sure that he made it all the way down to the Rte. 9 circle. I had no way of knowing if he’d go back up there but at least I made him think twice next time.
The whole episode only took about 1 minute 45 seconds, I know because that’s how long my pace dropped to 0 on my GPS. I couldn’t believe it. I knew that one day I was very likely to see a jumper since people go over all the time during this time of year. I used to always play it out in my mind, “What would I do if I ran into a jumper?” Well, now I know.
So to all you Victory Bridge jumpers out there….listen up!!! The Parakeet of Protection will be patrolling that bridge and if I see you up there acting a fool, you better get down, or else I will talk and talk and talk and wear you out so by the time I’m done, you’ll be happy to go back to getting your life back together”
An amazing story, and undeniably this weeks “Run of the Week” Great Job Sean!