IMPRESSIONS OF A NON-RUNNER
at the Haliburton Forest Runs
by Richard Eng, Race Volunteer
On an early morning, under a purplish sky, as the receding night gives way to the forthcoming dawn, from the distant rise of a hill comes a quickening of hooves and a crescendo of shadows. Suddenly, from an outline of flapping wings, glowing embers and gaping mouths, a nucleus of angelic figures appears. Accompanied by panting and breathless cries of “I’ll leave this here; I’ll pick this up later”: a rapid succession of discarded sweat tops, long sleeved T-shirts, and all resemblances of pretense or vanity, follows.
Seldom does the start of any thing point to the eventual winners, reveal the identities of the participants, or foretell the ensuing drama. However, it is often said that sport reveals character, or any creative work reveals one’s character, and the more one tries to hide it, the more it is revealed. The herd leaves an imprint as it runs by. One member is slender and fit; one is young, determined. Another is focused and intense, and a fourth shows early speed and exuberance. Some are slower, heavier. Some run more evenly. Some show patience, wisdom, grace, perseverance. Some are older, some braver. Some run in pairs. Some walk.
But they all must eat ... and drink ... as well as run. At the intermittent watering holes, conversations run. “I’ll probably skip the next one at Ottawa because I’ve already run six or seven in a row, and my body is tired - For a tired body, your body looks pretty good. You’ve got a cut on your knee - It happened earlier near the start, so don’t worry or concern yourself. I’m debating whether to turn back here or to continue on - Go forward, where’s your Dick? Dear, how’s my time? – You’re slowing down. I want to go shopping.”
More about long distance runners as time passes? Some are probably still out there running. Maybe after finishing once, they decided to go again. Or maybe, as suggested by one dressed in high top black running shoes, with long black laces and black dress socks, wearing a stained T-shirt and nylon shorts, with a map and flashlight sticking out from the back of his baseball cap, a water bottle hanging from his belt, flip up sunglasses, weathered worn skin and a watch, for him this is only a side tour or possible training for a cross country super megamarathon. Maybe, as a member of an older couple, one has returned home and is tending to their grandchildren, lawn or rose garden with similar pace, grace and care. Some may be drinking pina coladas ... in their houseboats. Nonetheless, I am sure they are all no less as interesting, diverse or as valuable as the aid station helpers, some of whom are Ironman triathletes.
No doubt, very little has been said about the annual Haliburton Forest Trail Run. The race has left but a passing impression. Yet, one can do much worse than to share with others a love for running 31-100 miles through the woods.