Team Joha

Members of the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun- to be renamed Team Joha this year- with a life size Joha photo marking her place on the team and in our hearts.

Last month a group of friends and family from around the country came together to celebrate our good friend, Johanna Olson, who passed away in January.  The Backcountry Run is a favorite among the running community in Sun Valley and Joha was queen!  As a former record holder and multiple time winner, it was the perfect race to invite others to join in to celebrate our dear friend.

Quite appropriately, the top three women were of the Team Joha crowd; but there were other stories to celebrate as well.  Johanna's dad, Terry, ran a tough race in her honor.  A number of members of the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Hood To Coast team came to town and felt the special team bond of a champions.  And it was announced- just that weekend- that one of the new trails in the Galena trails complex would be named "Johanna's Trail".

As we prepared for the Backcountry Run weekend, and now in preparation for the next Team Joha celebration to take place at this year's Hood To Coast race, I find myself excitedly anticipating the chance to see Johanna.  The planning details seem to overwhelm the part of my brain that knows this is not possible.  Perhaps this is the denial stage of grief, but I know something awful happened in January and now we are celebrating a life well lived so of course she will be there to celebrate with us.  And she is- through stories, friends, team camaraderie; but of course she is not.  We won't hear her tell a story or laugh about the characters we've encountered in HTC's of the past.  She won't be there to kick out butt on an easy run the day after the race.  And she won't be there to save the day when a runner gets injured and someone has got to run a 4th leg.  That's a hard thing to believe- until you see her family, grief written across their faces.  A palatable despair and desire to change the last year.  It makes your own sadness feel small and insignificant- and rightfully so- and yet it drives home Joha's message. Be grateful for your friends, your physical capabilities, your environment and especially for your life.  Stay positive, run if you can and find joy in the most simple of things.  Share a smile, give, and be grateful.  Dream.

So here's to you Miss J!  I'll put on my biggest smile as our team crosses that finish line.  But most of all, I will be grateful for all that you have taught me about life and living.