Here is a lovely and inspiring blessing to runners and running, written and delivered by Doug Koop at the start of the 2012 Manitoba Marathon. I wasn't at the race - but am fortunate to have Doug as a brother-in-law. I hope you runners enjoy this as much as I did.
I’m not thinking of high school and college cheer teams – though they may also be great. I haven’t been around those much in recent years.
I am thinking of the individuals and small clusters of people who turn out at events to cheer on the participants.
As a runner, I have long appreciated the clapping, cheering, singing, instrument-playing or sometimes wackily dressed bystanders who show up to add some energy to runners. Lord knows we need all the energy we can get.
What I have discovered is the power of magnification. Those cheers are easily amplified.
At age 21, after having one leg amputated due to cancer, he began training and completed a marathon in Prince George, BC.
Then came the run that would define him, define persistence, define cancer fundraising for decades to come. He started at the other Mile 0 of the Trans Canada, some 8,000 km (5,000 miles) east in St. John’s Newfoundland. The Marathon of Hope covered a marathon distance every day from April through September 1.
Pull on the shorts, the t-shirt and the runners. Head out the door. Put one foot in front of the other. Again and again.
At its core, running has an attractive simplicity to it. If only writing were so simple.
There is a school of thought that writing is – or can be – that simple. The idea is that writing is a process, a practice, a method for getting at clear thought. Not a way of communicating thoughts that are already clear.
In the north, running in the spring is a special kind of challenge. Special as in 'we don't have a choice so we adapt.'
Recreational trails where I live aren't plowed of snow, so footing is nearly impossible. Rutted, packed snow melts a bit and then ices over, creating a slippery dome that invites ankle sprains and spectacular plunges into slushy snowbanks.
So I reluctantly take to the sidewalks in spring, those narrow canyons bordered by a ridge of ice on one side (courtesy of roadway graders) and the front yards of homes and businesses on the other (where a winter's worth of white stuff is mounded and slowly melting).
Last week, as I prepared for a weekend run, it struck me how strongly artificial motivators were driving my attitude and even my metabolism.
As the Saturday run date approached, my heart beat a little faster. I mentally checked and rechecked what gear I would wear in what weather conditions. I monitored my eating more closely and listened more attentively to my stomach. Every few moments for days before, my mind jumped back to some aspect of the run scenario.