The Great Equalizer

Over the years, I have spent time running with many different people. My favourite of these informal running groups was - and is - the group I ran with during my time teaching at Bishop's University in Lennoxville, QC. We ranged in age from 30 to 60+, and together comprised of faculty representing the departments of Environmental Studies & Geography, Philosophy, Psychology, English, Political Studies, Biology, and Religion, as well as coaches of the football and basketball teams. This was a diverse bunch. At least two of us would run together at lunch 3 days a week, and it was not uncommon to have the whole group out on a perfect afternoon. Three runners (myself and my dear friends Jamie and Benoit) made up the "core" of this team and were often training for marathons together, adding long runs in on weekends. Memorably, during the summer we would route a 30-k run to end up at a pub on a lake in neighbouring North Hatley, where we would wade into the lake and subsequently enjoy lunch and a beer or two after the morning's effort.

The remarkable thing about this running group was its diversity. Although we were mostly all of different academic (or athletic) disciplines, of differing ages and varying paces, we all were joined by the common bond of running. This is a small piece of the magic of running, I think: the ability to bring people together who might otherwise have never found any common ground on which to start a conversation. And what conversations were had! Running with these people was an amazing life lesson in diversity of opinion, camaraderie, competition and group dynamics. However different this dynamic may have been while acting in our professional roles, running together effectively levelled the playing field. We see this same concept in practice in races, when everyone - of all abilities - toes the starting line together and runs the same race. For a brief period of time, everyone out on that course is equal in some small way, and I love being a part of that running community.

Me, Danny, Jamie and Benoit after the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, 2009

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