The Trail Runner

The trail runner is a body moving through wild space, a bag of calcium, protein and water. The trail runner is much more vulnerable than it thinks, and much less important. When the trail runner falls, no tree will stoop down to help it up. No rock will step out of its path as it hits the ground.

The trail runner leaks water, tinged with salt, and sometimes blood, tinged with regret.

The trail runner thinks it knows where it is going, and does not. Sometimes it uses digital instrumentation to improve its odds, and that doesn’t always help. Sometimes it hurts.

The trail runner yearns for the trail, daydreams its movement through the air, in defiance of gravity and reason, but the trail runner is also always relieved to see the car again.

The trail runner invariably has a rock in its shoe.

The trail runner believes it is one with nature. Nature has no opinion on this.

The trail runner is training for something arbitrary, a distance maybe, some mountain climbing, a lack of sleep. The trail runner desperately wants to find its limits, and also desperately does not want to find its limits. The trail runner believes it is better than the road runner, but has no real evidence, because it’s not a real question.

The trail runner has too many shoes.

The trail runner is a meteorologist and a mystic, knows when it will rain, knows when the soft snow will turn to slick ice, must touch the gate at the end of the trail before turning around in order not to break the spell of completeness, in fact performs dozens of innocuous rituals, most of which will go unremarked upon and unacknowledged. The trail runner loves science, but definitely trucks with metaphysics, superstition, and low-key paganism.

The trail runner usually suspects it has poison ivy.

The trail runner studies maps and operates multiple apps, stringing together possible adventures, knowing that, quite possibly the trail will be impassable, run across “private” property, or be underwater. As a result the trail runner will end up with “extra” mileage, a predictable human conflict, and wet feet.

The trail runner wishes it had better ankle stability, was better at climbing, and that it might discover some trove of heretofore unknown trails hiding very close to its home.

The trail runner is a pilgrim, forever on haj, a seeker but seldom a finder, which only leads to more running, away from what? to what? No one knows.