There’s a flat trail nearby, a former railroad right of way now paved. It passes through some of the finest country around — the Black Dirt region, source of the finest onions — and makes for a scenic and pleasant run or cycling trip. A lot of my marathon training runs take place on the Heritage Trail, as it’s called.
This past weekend it was home to the Matthew Dudgeon Memorial 7k Run/Walk, an event in its third/seventh year. The race is held to bring attention to a suite of rare mitochondrial diseases, one of which claimed the life of 27-month-old Matty in 2000. In addition to raising money for the study of these diseases, entry fees and raffle funds go toward supporting families in the region who are coping with terminal illness. Matthew’s family are the force behind this event, supported by the local running community and others.
Whether you’re looking for reasons to run or not, you’ve found one. There are events like this one around the country on any given weekend. Bring the kids. If you can’t run 4.4 (or 3.5 or 6.2) miles, you can walk. Your entry fee will invariably help someone who needs it, you’ll connect with other humans, you’ll help a family make something good come out of something tragic, you’ll enjoy yourself outside, and you’ll increase your own fitness. And boy howdy, standing around with all those fit people and exuberant youngsters will restore something you might be missing if you’ve been watching the news or looking at your gas bill …maybe it’s optimism, faith in your fellow people, or just the clean sensation of taking a deep breath and doing something with it.
Often, you’ll get a t-shirt.