Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Why I Run



 [Note: This piece was originally written a few weeks ago as an entry to an essay contest hosted by Geoff Roes via iRunFar. Geoff challenged readers to convey the idea of why they run in an essay of 350 words or less, using whatever writing style the contestants chose, to attempt to answer this oft asked question that seldom has a concrete or well defined answer. Geoff's original post can be found here, and a follow-up post with the winning entry here.]

Somewhere in the woods of Upstate New York, a creek snakes its way among the pines, slowly eroding the shale and siltstone one millimeter at a time as it has done for the past 10,000 years. The winding creek is paralleled for miles by an equally winding singletrack trail. Last night’s snowfall has created a uniform layer of crystal white virgin snow – a pristine coat that rises and falls perfectly to match the contour of the trail’s slope. Despite the icy December air, the creek water flows smoothly, making its way downstream and ultimately dissipating into the infinite waters of a massive lake.

The morning tranquility is hardly interrupted by a steady crunching of shoes across the untrodden white blanket. A solitary runner slowly fades into focus, materializing amidst the light fog that often graces the creek bed at this hour. The runner climbs steadily up the singletrack, cresting the highest point of the rim trail. He comes to a halt and overlooks the gorge, where water drops 200 feet below in a multitude of cascades, crashing into the basin with a steady, droning roar before continuing downstream. 

The runner pauses a few moments to take in the scene. Time seems to slow as he feels the thuh-thump of each individual heartbeat. The labored breaths begin to decrease in frequency, the heart rate gradually slows, and a warm sense of calm spreads throughout the runner’s body. His gaze reaches the creek bed far below, and all extraneous thoughts are washed away as if carried by the rushing water around the bend and out of sight. All thoughts of an existence outside this moment are whisked downstream and into oblivion as the transcendence completes itself. 

He realizes with certainty that he is now invincible. The trillions of trivialities that comprise everyday life are suddenly nonexistent. His breath and his being are all that are, all that ever were, and all that there will ever be. He moves from his perch overlooking the gorge and begins to meander once again along the snowy trail. At this moment, the runner has but one concrete thought: “I am, therefore I run.” 

***

Why do YOU run? Did anyone else here enter Geoff's contest? I would love the chance to read some of the other 100+ submissions. Thanks for reading!