Someone awesome I met while trail running?
Because one day, a couple of years ago, while roaming Prospect Park’s mini trail system, a bearded dude in split shorts and minimus literally FLEW by me. He winked and disappeared in the bushes. He looked like a hipster version of Tony Krupicka. I thought he was awesome.
How about that one? During my first trail race, a half marathon in Bear Mountain, I really struggled at the end. A nimble, almost ethereal young lady with a North Brooklyn running club shirt picked me up with 2 miles to go and said something like “come on dude, hang on”.
And I did. She paced me to a 2:13 finish. She was awesome!
Recently, I ran a tough trail race. It was harder than anything I’ve ever experienced, even child birth (I had two, naturally… well, my wife had two… but they’re still mine). At times, I wished a rattlesnake would bite me and end it. But there are no rattlesnake in NY state. It was a long race and it took me almost 6 hours to cross the line, battered and bloodied. A buddy of mine crewed me. Without him, I’m not sure I’d have finished.
You know, I could go on and on. Awesomeness is a fundamental part of trail running, whether it’s the act of running under a canopy of tree, or past it, or just the people, the shared love and mutual respect. It’s there. You can feel it.
Sometimes, it’s even contagious.
Let me tell you about this guy I know whose awesomeness was born on the trail.
He was a guy who used to cut corners. Diretto, as Rickey Gates was told many times. Except the guy I know didn’t cut corners to get faster to point B. He cut corners because it made the course shorter. The nuance matters.
The guy I’m talking about didn’t race. He didn’t even run. He only chased.
He was like mankind, sitting on a rock, falling fast. But the air flowing in his face led him to believe that, instead of falling, he was flying.
The horizon remained far away, but the ground was fast approaching.
The French, they say: “jusqu’ici tout va bien, jusqu’ici tout va bien, jusqu’ici tout va bien. Mais l’important c’est pas la chute, c’est l’atterrissage.”
The crash was unavoidable. Everyone knew it would happen.
[sound of a man crashing]
The guy survived. Barely. Got to go back to his wife and kids after all. But it took some serious work to stitch him back to life. The surgeons repaired the body. That was the easy part. The guy had something else to repair.
The body is NOTHING if the mind is broken.
How many time one is given a real second chance? A chance to do it all over again, to do it right.
The guy went from walking backwards to running forward. Trails. Mostly Hills.
He saw the horizon, beyond. Sometimes, he would stop mid-run and stare at the thin line between the earth and the universe.
Stare at the limitlessness. At the possibilities…
The guy took the longest path. He got lost. But he stayed true to himself. Stayed on course. He reached within, tapped into a new sense of awesomeness. The thing with trail running, it’s an action / reaction game. The trail dictates. The runner reacts. It’s a good therapy for overblown egos.
Running along the spinning globe requires balance.
On the trail, he felt the earth beneath his feet.
Funny how nature has a way to teach you how to run… your life. It’s the great equalizer. It makes everyone awesome.