Wednesday, July 17, 2019

I flew up to Boston on Sunday for the Boston Marathon. I had to be at dinner by 5:45 and my host by 8:45 for Game of Thrones. So, I expected a calm afternoon of visiting the race expo and picking up my race number.

(Nothing in your world is ever calm)

Like many people, my life’s encounters are moments that result from sudden opportunities.

(Like the rest of us just schedule our life altering events?)

By “chance,” I bumped into my friend Ari Baum. There were thousands of people running the marathon the next day and hundreds of them were in that room looking at race tee shirts, but I found the only other Orthodox Jewish Ironman.

(There’s more of you?)

I know about nine others.

(A minyan of Ironman triathletes?)

Something like that. So we walked around the expo and “by chance,” Ari spotted Ironman Triathlon legend, Bob Babbitt. I would have walked right passed the booth.

As “chance” would have it, Bob was between interviews with pro athletes and spoke with us. In a room full of marathon runners Bob loved having two triathletes to chat with. I showed him my Ironman Triathlon kippah and Bob asked, “Did you bring your tefillin?”

So I took a “chance.”

“Yes, would you like to put them on?”

“Nah...I’m not religious.”

“You’re Jewish?”

“Yeah, but...”

“That’s ok, God loves you.”

...and that’s how (by chance) at a marathon expo in Boston, I helped a man to wear tefillin for the second time since his bar mitzvah.


David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and a veteran special education teacher. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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