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Friday, July 10, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Ammi Midstokke: A community on the run

It was pouring rain. The kind of rain that makes you wake up only to have a cup of coffee and go back to bed. The kind of rain that allows you to guiltlessly wallow in hours of knitting and old movies. The kind of rain that makes one glad to have a roof.

I’m not exactly sure why I decided to go for a run. I hadn’t run in weeks (see: bilge water episode). I had a list of sewing projects, baking chores, and the siren song of a long nap all calling to me. Regardless, I tied my shoes and ventured out in the downpour.

Surprisingly, I did not melt. I am uncertain what makes us so determined to stay out of the rain. We spend twenty minutes in a shower in the morning, then run from our cars to the grocery store doors as if we were sugar cubes. It appears to be rather harmless.

I headed down my dirt road then made the sharp left onto the waterlogged fields that border the forest. My feet were wet before I stepped into the first forming creek. The trees, dripping from hours of consistent rain, offered no shelter.

It smelled amazing. Like earth and water and the sweet decay of autumn leaves and rich soil. The sound of the rain pummeling the ground was interrupted only by the pitter-patter of my feet.

As expected, I had the trails to myself. It was a shame, I thought, that no one else was out experiencing this. Even the deer, moose, and bear were hunkered down under their own branch roofs. I gave up on trying to run around puddles, embraced the inner child, and splashed my way through them.

When I crested the hilltop I saw the distinct fluorescent rainbow of fashion statement reflective gear that could only be a fellow runner. As our trails merged, three brightly clad and equally mud-splashed women trotted ahead of me.

I fell in with the group as they wound their way down the switch backs. Their happily barking dogs decided I belonged to the herd and occasionally fell back to check on me.

I could not hear their conversations between the muddy feet, the rain drops, and the joyful dog song, but I could hear the tone of friendship, camaraderie, and the chatter of women talking of women things.

There were husbands and children, dogs and recent movies, mountain bike stories and race plans, trail descriptions, and all the random thoughts we share with our companions when we’re out making memories.

It is an incredible gift to have such a community. If you do not, I encourage you to go and make one right now. Friends who run with you in torrential rains on a Saturday morning are the friends of generations.

I thought about the running friends who have been witness to my life (and I to theirs). The women who jogged behind their strollers with me on the country roads of Ireland while I fretted about being a new mother. The friends who raised their children only to escape early Sunday morning for grown up time on the trails. The miles and miles and miles I ran to process the heartbreak of divorce and the tireless legs and ears that accompanied me.

The story telling that makes our histories takes place in these seemingly casual shared moments. It may begin with an acquaintance, a colleague who wants to start running, someone from your gym who wants to do a race, a friend who wants to discover new hiking trails. Perhaps you join a group that already exists (and has likely invited you out several times already).

Whatever it is that brings you to the outdoors, that one commonality is the foundation of new friendship, experiences, and more time spent in the trees. Make the memories exponential – share them with someone.

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