The other night I went to the Trails in Motion film festival, leading up to the Golden Gate Dirty 30 race that I’m running tomorrow. Featured in these films were a couple of local legends – Courtney Dauwalter and Clare Gallagher. More importantly, several films showcased athletes who may never podium, but who demonstrate an inspiring amount of heart, grit and perseverance, who put themselves in unique positions to experience both suffering and joy.
I try, and fail miserably, with every post to describe what stokes the fire for me and why I love trail running even though I’ll never be the best, the toughest, the fastest or indeed the anything-est. At the very least, it’s more than a way to burn calories, it’s far beyond just getting exercise. Slightly more accurately, it’s a tool for mental and emotional fitness, which are inextricably linked to physical fitness. I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, perfectionism, poor body image, feelings of worthlessness and a boatload of harsh self-criticism and judgement. Trail running is not a tool to avoid these things, but a way to push through and evolve.
As I watched those films, every single one hit me right in the tear ducts. One in particular struck me, not so much for the inspiring story, but for the way the subject of the film described what trail running means to him. Leave it to a songwriter to be able to describe the purpose that trail running serves for me better than I can myself. In a word, it is transcendent.