Sean Ray | Opinions Editor
Wake up at 6 a.m. on a weekend, tired beyond belief. Eat my breakfast of two handfuls of trail mix to silence my stomach. Walk a few blocks downtown to take the early shuttle ride up to the starting line.
Get packed in tightly with tons of other runners, take a few minutes to stretch, hear the starting siren and I come alive.
This past weekend, I participated in what has become a yearly tradition for me, the Richard S. Caliguri Great Race. Ten kilometers ,of trying to find small openings in the crowd to fit through as you try to go faster and faster and ignoring the pain in your feet from running on concrete.
The Great Race is a grueling affair. So why do I do it every year? Because there is no greater feeling than running. I truly believe it is one of the greatest forms of exercise available to anyone.
Running is simple. There are no techniques you need to master. It’s just putting one foot in front of the other as fast or as long as you can.
At the same time, however, it is during a run that you learn the most about yourself. Finding your pace is one of the most important aspects of running, knowing just how fast you can run comfortably and then pushing that farther and farther.
That is one of the beauties of running: your greatest rival is yourself. Runners live and strive to beat their personal record and I heard quite a few people at the finish line of the Great Race mentioning whether they did or didn’t.
This drive to beat your past self also helps establish a sort of difficulty curve to running. As time goes on, it’s easy to find yourself wanting to run more than the last time. To move up to 10Ks, half marathons, or even marathons eventually.
Finally, running is a very social event. Unlike various other sports, where you need to keep your concentration on a ball or puck, running can be done passively. It’s easy to gather a group of friends for a run, and have a small talk the entire time. This helps keep your mind off any pain you might be feeling and generally makes the experience more enjoyable. Even if you’re not running all together, meeting up at the finish line and comparing times and experiences on the run brings out a whole new angel of fun you don’t see much in other, more competitive sports.
Running brings people together in a way few other sports can, and no proof of that is greater than that
of Peter and Jackie Goslin, two fellow runners I met at the Great Race. A married couple, the two have run the Great Race for 14 years. When asked about their running training, the two told me that “We [run] in the mornings during the week. We have two young kids, so it’s the only time we can run.”
Now, I’m sure many people understand how hard it is to raise children, especially young ones. And yet, these two still find time to go out and run during the week despite the difficulties.
What drives these people to come back, year after year, to run the Great Race? What possesses them to get up early, just like me, to get packed in tight during the race, and run a tough 10 kilometers?
“For me, it’s the sense of accomplishment. I’ll remind myself of that before the race.” Peter told me.
This is the same thing I find motivates me to run: the sense of accomplishment. This is the one thing I find no other sport provides to me. That sense of scaling a proverbial mountain.
That is why I and so many others run, and why you should join in as well.