09 June 2013

you'd be surprised who you meet trail running

Trail running has facilitated me meeting some incredible people. Not only have I had the chance to toe the start line with a few of the biggest names in the sport, they have been nice enough to shoot the shit with me when I finally cross the finish line several hours after they do.

But what really surprised me was how trail running has (just very recently!) helped me to re-connect with not only my sister but my mother as well.

A little history is probably in order.

My mother passed away while mountain climbing in 1988. My sister is very much alive and well and living her dream job and active lifestyle.

My mother was a trail blazer. After moving to America with my father and getting fed up with the stay-at-home-mom lifestyle and weight gain it can sometimes accompany she started to run. She had no real athletic background. At first it was just jogging around the neighborhood but not knowing there were socially accepted limits for moms in their 40s, soon she was going longer. And then she was doing long, solo hikes (now called fastpacking). And then one day she started setting running records like at the Birch Bay Marathon and running ultras like the Biel 100 km and entering relay races like the Falls to Gasworks Run in the solo category and finally setting records in ultras.

My sister was always independent and athletic. She has hiked, river rafted, kayaked, cycled, skied, run and even ridden horses. After a while one thing led to another and she started amassing road marathon finishes.

A few years ago I started running. Prior to this my sport was cycling. It was all about the bike and I raced on the road, in the dirt, on the track, on tandems, you name it. When my wife started running it was through supporting her at events that I caught the running bug. And boy did I catch it...

Turns out one of my cycling friends was an accomplished ultra runner who was using the bike to recover from an injury. The more we rode together the more we talked about running. Soon my 'dabbling' turned into weekly outings on local trails and before I knew it, I was registered for my first ultra. Suddenly I was loving all the hikes that I had hated as a child and was asking my father about all the trails he and my mother had been on. I also never tired of hearing my father relate stories about my mother's accomplishments. Talk about inspiration!

As I was quietly doing my thing and ramping up my trail running mileage it turns out my sister was doing likewise. She and her friends were trail running, entering ultras, finishing ultras and then one day I heard that she was planning on heading over to Europe to enter the Ultra that my mother had won and set the record for in her age division. The Biel 100 km.

Wow.

Although I was not consciously aware of it at the time, it seems my mother had a powerful influence on both of us.

Fast forward to June 2012.

I was at my sister's wedding party. We had arrived a day early and guess what, my sister and her friends were going to go for a trail run. Fortuitously I had packed my running shoes so I jumped up and shouted, "Can I come along?"

In that one hour we talked about so much! We touched on running, Mom, the Biel race (which my sister had just completed), marriage, love and suddenly I realized that a love for running, and the influence that my mother had on both of us, was not only incredibly powerful but very much alive and well.

Fast forward to November 2012 and I am pacing my sister in the Seattle Marathon. Let me just say that it was one of the most rewarding running experiences I have ever had. We talked, about even more stuff; my sister posted a PR while feeling the best she ever has at this distance and I felt like my mother was watching and smiling.

a couple of weeks later I got an email from my sister. "Hey Martin, my friend and I are going to run the Mt. Hood 50, you want to join us?" Yes please!

Thank you mom, it has been an inspiring experience re-meeting you through trail running. Thank you sister, it has been awesome connecting with you through trail running. I can't wait for what's next.

This post is part of the Trail Runner Magazine Blog Symposium.

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2 comments:

Angel said...

I love reading stories like these. Thanks for sharing Martin. I hope to see you on the trails again soon. Angel

Martin Criminale said...

@Angel - Thanks for the kind words. I hope to see you on the trails as well! I'm still getting my legs under me but hope to join some groups runs in a few weeks.