A year or so ago my cousin, who is studying Occupational Therapy, interviewed me as part of her course, asking about why I ran and what I would miss if I could not run anymore. I remember becoming quite zealous about the subject and although I had not been running too long, my passion for the sport was already very evident.

*my own mini New York Marathon, Central Park, NYC

The reasons for taking up running are more than just for physical achievement. Firstly, it’s about the camaraderie that sport in general inspires, that no matter who you are or what you do or what you have, we all show up at the start line as equals, all striving for the same finish line…granted at different paces perhaps. We don’t know each other but we support, encourage and carry each other when it’s necessary.

I enjoy pounding the pavement, working up a sweat and escaping from the worry and stress of the day, and often find I return more enlightened and with solutions rather than more clouds of uncertainty.

*desolate streets of an early morning in Barcelona
barcelona2 barcelona

I love the way we need to challenge ourselves as athletes, both physically and mentally. I’ve run all kinds of distances, including 89km in less than 12 hours and you learn the importance of a strong mind and strong spirit to carry you when you feel your legs can’t make another stride: “Don’t give up”; “Keep pushing”; “You have enough to give”; “You’ve done the work, now keep your head up and take one step at a time” – these are the motivational mantras we tell ourselves

*running around the lake, Lake Junaluska, North Carolina

Another lesson that running teaches is that old age, “you reap what you sow”. It’s simple in running – you get out what you put in. If you do not practice, you will not improve your time. If you do not train, you will not get stronger and you may pick up an injury. If your nutrition is poor, you will not have enough energy to run the distances or the speeds you desire.

Edinburgh from the top
*Edinburgh – view from the top

My favourite part of this sport and one that inspired this post is that running often takes you to places you wouldn’t necessarily go. Even back home, I’ve run off-the-main-road routes and through neighbourhoods I would not ordinarily pass through. I get to see new places and breathe different air and that in itself is an adventure. With this spirit, I made sure I packed my running shoes when I travelled and was lucky enough to run in very many of the cities I visited – Louisville, New York City, Lake Junalaska, London, Edinburgh, Barcelona, Rotterdam.

chicago chitown

My favourite running memory from my trip is in Chicago. On the morning I was to leave the city, I rose with the sun and ran from my hostel, in the Bucktown area, headed Downtown. I skipped and jumped over vomit on the pavements outside the pubs where patrons obviously had a great time the night before, keeping my eyes on the tall buildings of the city in the distance. It was just after 6am when I reached the riverside; the city was still quiet before the rush of morning traffic was to hit. It was a beautiful experience and if I never get to run the Chicago Marathon, one that I will cherish.

IMG_1269IMG_1272*Comrades Ultra marathon, Durban, South Africa

Lastly, besides the friends of ALL ages (17 – 80+ years) that I make while running, I get to run with my dad which is pretty awesome! He inspired me to run my first race and hopefully we’ll have many more kilometres together!

Final word – smile at other runners on the road, please! We’re more similar than different! 🙂 #forloveofthegame #born2run

*representing Cape Town in New York City

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Vincent Benjamin says:

    Fantastic memories which will always stay with you. Your parents can be so proud of you, more so your dad, for following in his footsteps literally and figuratively.


    1. Merrill says:

      Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s