How running transformed strangers into friends

I do not remember the last time I had a conversation with virtual stranger until the wee hours of the morning when it wasn’t required for work.

Despite extreme sleep deprivation, there were – me, Patrick High and Susanna McDonald – at a Washington D.C. restaurant talking energetically until after midnight.
The topic: running.

We’d just finished the DC Ragnar as part of the Runt Funners (everyone on the team was a member of the DC Front Runners except the reporter from Utah).

We talked about how it’s healing, how it’s soothing, how it’s torturous.
Patrick began running because he had to.

He joined the military at age 16, and had to run for physical fitness tests.
“I ran because I had to check it off my list,” he said. “It was horrible. I hated running in the military. I even failed a couple of the PT tests.”

In addition to being the mother of invention, necessity became the vehicle for Patrick’s eventual passion. After he joined D.C. Front Runners, a running, walking and social club for gay people and their friends, he began to discover a love for a sport he’d loathed at first.

“It turned from being something monotonous to something I looked forward to,” he said of joining the D.C. Front Runners.

With the support of other runners, he began tackling marathons.

Patrick did not know what to expect when he joined with some of the other members of Front Runners to form a team to compete in the October DC Ragnar. He had no idea what to expect.

“Ignorance is bliss,” he said laughing afterward.

The three of us talked about how running had become a metaphor for our lives. Susanna was injured during the D.C. Ragnar and made the supreme sacrifice by driving for our van. She suffered with us without the satisfaction that comes with running her share of the nearly 200 miles. (She will, however, get her chance in another Ragnar in the not-too-distant future!)

Patrick had a particularly hard second leg, which he now affectionately refers to as “the Blair Witch leg.” It was a dark, lonely trail and his run stretched from the dark until the first light of morning.

Some complained about the terrain, but Patrick just shrugged.

“I’ve learned that running is really about playing the hand you’re dealt,” he said.
Susanna and Patrick had plans to show me the nation’s capital at night. I hear the monuments are beautiful bathed in soft light against a dark sky, but I never got a chance to see them for myself. We used the few hours we had to dissect the sport we love – even when we hate it.

Not only had it shaped and changed our lives individually, it was powerful enough to transform virtual strangers into kindred spirits.

Susanna and me!

Patrick and me!

One comment

  1. Dannarapu

    I’m doing: a local 5K, Shamrock Shuffle, baobrply a local 10K, Chi-Town Half, Sunburst Half (South Bend), 13.1 Chicago, RnR Chicago Half, Chicago Half, baobrply Fort2Base 10 Nautical Mile and the Chicago Marathon. And baobrply a few other local shorter races, and stuff after the marathon (maybe Hot Chocolate 15K or the Monster Dash Half).

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