When I showed up at Frenchtown High School on Saturday morning, I didn’t really know what to expect, or how to act.

Would people be talking? Smiling? Having fun? For some reason, I imagined everyone running silently in a solemn tribute to the woman who brought us all together: Sherry Arnold.

Memorial runs are, for me, uncharted territory. I’ve spent countless Saturday mornings prepping for countless runs and races, but this one was different. Why? Because on this day, I wasn’t running for myself. I was running for Sherry.

Sherry was in my thoughts from the moment I woke up. As I brewed my morning coffee, I wondered if Sherry had done the same thing before she headed out that morning.

When I was layering up — the outside temperature was 14 degrees with the wind chill! — I thought of Sherry doing the same thing that morning. I wondered how many layers I would have to put on to face a pre-dawn winter morning in Sidney. Then I thought, “Is this OK? Should I be thinking about this?”

After I pinned my special blue bib to my shirt and joined the rest of the crowd in the driveway at FHS, I had an epiphany. This run was meant to celebrate Sherry as a person — as a wife, mother, friend and teacher. This run wasn’t about mourning; it was about healing.

Before we took off, a couple of former Sidney students shared their memories of Sherry. They smiled as they spoke, and the rest of the crowd smiled as they listened.

I ran the whole way with a couple of friends from my college cross-country team. One of them, Mary Kettering, was a co-organizer of the run. For us, it was humbling to run for a purpose greater than anything that had ever inspired us in the past. It wasn’t about place or time or points — it was just about Sherry.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.