The following poem (author presently unknown) is a dedication to all the harriers of all ages as they have embraced their regional, state, and national championships the past few weeks. Particularly to my teammates over the years, competitors, and the many athletes I have coached.
Is there any cleansing by pain as pure as a cross country run? Not this side of the bardo.
“There is, as perhaps you remember,
a very special time in the fall when the leaves are giving up their
year long roosts, and list sighingly down the cool brisk air, bouncing off
full chested with vibrant life.
Racing like the children we wish we could always remain, we scraped up the hills, waded through the slop, and gleefully mudded up anyone behind us.
And at the end, penned single file in the finish chute,
we groped breathlessly for the heaving back
of the fellow adventurer ahead of us. Then,
coaches forgotten and scores ignored,
we clomped around the course again,
all of us fall runners together, telling lies about
workouts and lovers,
and not really wanting to leave.
It was a quiet time, a simple time,
and whatever noisy and troubled adulthood
we have gone to, each fall,
when the leaves flutter downwards
in the crisp autumn air,
cross country runners