This fall marks the 20th year I have been a runner. I hung around after the first day of my sophomore year of high school to join the cross-country team, and in doing so I met two of the bigger influences on my young life: head coach Rick Bishop and a 16 year-old junior named Kevin Salverson. Initially, I was not a competent runner, barely performing well enough to be junior varsity. But I fell in love with the sport and the people I met because of it and so I did what seemed logical; I kept running.
Running has, at times, been the most important thing in my life. It has provided me an escape and a refuge from the difficulties I faced. It gave me the space to mull over most of the important decisions I have made. It has also gutted me, left me empty, broken, disappointed, and frustrated. I’ve experienced highs and lows, joy and woe, life and death. Tragedy and pain, success and happiness; I found it all out on a run.
I have sought running as a coping mechanism. It provided solace. It mended broken hearts. It gives me the truest form of freedom I have ever known. It has helped me deal with what I now recognize as depression and anxiety, providing me with a natural form of medication and therapy for both. I have struggled with the competitiveness of it, with accepting my abilities and limitations, losing my patience and temper when reality failed to meet expectations. At times the only thing that mattered was running fast and winning races. Age and experience have fostered an appreciation that what truly matters is the run itself. I have been gifted with the ability to do it. After 20 years and approximately 30,000 miles, that is more than enough.
Running keeps me grounded, humbled, satisfied, creative, and inspired. Over the years it has taught me to be present, in the moment, conscientious of the immediate world around me. One can only take what the run provides, and when that is acknowledged and accepted, running can be a truly meditative act that fulfills the soul.
It also keeps me connected to Kevin, that kid I met long ago in the commons of Central High. I have felt his presence, in some form or fashion, on every run over the last 17 years. That is perhaps the thing for which I am most grateful. Running keeps me connected to him and the friendship, brotherhood, and youth we shared all those years ago, running around the high plains of southeastern Wyoming.
I once asked Rick Bishop about his coaching philosophy. With no hesitation, he declared that he was less interested in developing state champion runners and more interested in developing lifelong runners. Rick’s love of running was infectious, and I have never forgotten that conversation.
You certainly succeeded with this kid, Bish. It doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to be fast. It can just simply be. As long as I am able to do so, I will run. Until the wheels fall off…
1999 Wyoming State High School XC Championships
Woody Greeno Invite, University of Nebraska, 2005
2007 Silent Trails
2009 Twin Mountain Trudge
2011 Wind River Crossing
2012 Silent Trails
2013 Quad Rock
2014 Lake Lowell Half-Marathon
Observation Peak, Sawtooth Range, 2015
2017 Race to Robie Creek