Monday, April 22, 2019

The Rabbit

In my neighborhood, I usually see a family of wild rabbits with bushy white tails. They're harmless and pretty, but they hop quickly. As I studied the pace of their movements, I remembered that in the sport of Track and Field, if you want the field to go faster than intended, there's usually a rabbit in the race. The rabbit's role is to set the pace for the field, but the rabbit does not complete the race. He merely ensures that the others running are doing what they're supposed to do so that when he drops out, the remaining runners have the momentum to keep going.

According to Runners World, in distances as short as the 800 meters and as long as the marathon, the
rabbit is tasked with leading the race to a certain point (usually about halfway), doing the hard work while the other runners save their energy, then exiting (stage left or right, depending on what's less intrusive to the rest of the field) and watching the finish from the sidelines. The rabbit is usually an independent contractor, unaligned with any other athlete in the race yet responsible for everyone. He is a shepherd without crook, conductor without a baton, sometimes all but unknown to the world-class runners he is pacing.

Rabbits help the field reach their personal best, so though it may seem unfair to some and some may complain, the athlete who is pushing himself welcomes the pacesetter. It is proven that pacemaking leads to faster times. Bernard Lagat, the world record holder of the Wannamaker mile, said of his rabbits, "The easy, consistent pace made it possible for me to have energy at the end."

The rabbit brings out the best in us. When I jog, if I see someone ahead of me, my competitive instinct kicks in, because that person is now functioning as a rabbit for me.  I find myself running harder, swinging my arms more rhythmically until I catch and overtake that person. While there is joy in passing that person, the real pleasure is in seeing my time and knowing what I can accomplish. It was in me all along, I just didn't realize it until I had a target.

The rabbit reinforces the notion that it was in us and we all need a little prodding. I feel prodded when I read God's word and see where he wants me to be. I recognize that I can get from here to there because His word acts like a rabbit for me - pushing me along, helping me maintain a pace. A similar thing happens I'm with someone who has accomplished things that I can also do. There's a humility and gentleness about them while still encouraging me to do what I'm called to do. Then I'm also hopeful that I'm the rabbit to others, be it my children or others that I meet or those who read my words.

A sprint is too quick to necessitate the need for a rabbit. The rabbit for a sprinter is training, but in a long distance race in addition to training, a rabbit provides the potential for a distance runner to reach a goal. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Unlike the sport of track and field, we all have it in us to spur others to good works. Like those rabbits in my neighborhood, we can move at our pace, while helping others discover what was in them all along.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. Hebrews 10:24

Are you the rabbit or is there a rabbit in your life?

Source -the picture above shows the Rabbits Abel Kirui, Elijah Keitani, and Wilson Kigen pacing Haile Gebrselassie and Charles Kamathi at the Berlin Marathon 2008, where Gebrselassie set the World Record.


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  1. I didn't know that about the rabbit! Very interesting! I think my kids are probably my rabbits. :) Thanks for sharing at #heartandsoullinkup

  2. This is a great post! I didn't know about the role of the rabbit in a race but that's a great concept. The Christian life definitely is a marathon rather than a sprint and we all need to be rabbits for one another at times and spur each other on to be the best we can be.

  3. Loved your rabbit post! How appropriate for the Easter season. I do have a friend who is a rabbit for me. she is always suggesting races, inviting me along on adventures, and inspiring me. I am so thankful to have a rabbit in my life!

  4. Nylse - I love this post. Running races fascinates me even though I am not a runner. Learning about the rabbit was fantastic. I am so glad you shared with us on Grace & Truth Link-Up.

    I was trying to explain the other day to someone how important it is to have someone a little further along on the journey so we can be encouraged and hopeful. But then equally important it is for us to reach back and help another.



  5. We all need encouragement don't we! Great post Nylse!

    You may enjoy reading "A Marathon?"
    You're most welcome to join me in a cuppa,
    Bless you,

  6. Interesting article. I'm not a runner,so I guess it's not too surprising that I never heard this about the rabbit. I like the way you tied the example in with believers helping one another to run the race set before us. Thank you for sharing! *visiting you from the Soaring With Him blog's Recharge Wednesday LINKUP.

  7. I did not know that about the rabbits. That is very interesting. Running is not my thing but I love the example of the rabbit and the believers running The Race. Thanks for sharing this great post.

  8. I've had the blessing of SO MANY rabbits, and I'm sensing the Lord's urging to step up and be the rabbit in these days past 50.

  9. I watch track so I was familiar with the concepts of rabbits, but never thought about rabbits in my life - or being a rabbit for others. You got me thinking about the people who have inspired me and then then moved on - to me those are the rabbits in my life and there have been a few.

  10. You're a rabbit with grace and laughter for me! Great post!

  11. Thanks for sharing. Very interesting, and a great way to view our spiritual walk to come alongside others to offer support and encouragement.


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