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  • Reverend James Squire

Runnning With Others


We had the recent running of the Broad Street Run, one of the runs that everyone who is a runner wants to do. I can remember every mile of the 10 miles course for many different reasons. I ran it with Mark Luff, teacher at EA. He was the real deal as a runner, teacher, and colleague.


Back then runners parked their cars down near the stadium complex and made their way up Broad Street by a subway that all of us were packed in like sardines in a can. Mark and I looked at one another and laughed because it freaks you out that the long trip to Central High where the race starts seems so far way as it seemed to take forever to get there. Mark was interested in a certain time per mile. I, on the other hand, just wanted to finish.


There was some humor along the way as people hung out of their windows in North Philly shouting, “You’re never going to make it!” At about mile eight a woman who was retired and had run in every Broad Street Run since it began, pulled up next to me and started a conversation. She talked with great ease as I was searching for the next breath. She looked at me and said, “I will see you at the finish line, Sonny.” She took off like the road runner!


Mark was waiting for me. We did it together without the same results, but the important part was that we did it together. A shared experience is the glue in relationships.


I ran the Zoo Run with another faculty member. We started in Camden and ran over the Betsy Ross Bridge, up the river drive, and finished at the zoo. Next time you cross the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, pay attention to how steep the grade on and off is. This time I had to wait for him. When he finished, he looked at his watch and then at me and said, “That is the time I wanted to finish.” Another shared experience!


Why these two stories? When you are a runner, these experiences become part of you. It is called kinesthetic intelligence. Runners are loyal to one another once they run together. A fellow faculty member told me a story that another faculty member was criticizing me for being so slow relative to others. He told me his response, “At least he is out there. On his worst day he is faster than you will ever be.” A shared purpose makes for support from those with whom you have shared the experience. In a few words, they are loyal!


What I have learned is that it is now better for me to compete against myself. After the spine surgery, I am now walking. My coach is Vicki. I can’t do rehab until June according to my surgeon, but I want to be ready by then to do my version of being fast. I am surprised that I still have my base, my air! But more important than anything is my body remembers past times and the special ones are when I have run with others. Right now, I am fighting through fatigue and getting more air as a result of the spine surgery and getting Covid on top of it. The Broad Street run is not a distant memory.  It is always right around the corner of my experience ready to provide a joyful feeling and a willingness to get back on the highway.

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Rev. You are so right! Running is all about sharing miles with your bestie or an interesting character you meet on the race course. My fondest memories are races and long runs commiserating about the misery of running, but continue to do it every day. It always brings joy at the finish line. I’ll be running Squire’s hill next week and thinking of you.

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