News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Running commentary: the forest soothes

As I watched my dogs Kinzua and Raven race up the red cinder 1008 road just north of Cold Springs Campground, I paused to take in my surroundings: mature, sun-splashed, yellow-bellied ponderosa pines towering over the manzanita covered forest floor, birds singing songs of spring, and a smell of thawing ground.

If we’ve got to practice social distancing, our forest is the place to do it.

We Sisters Country people understood long before the coronavirus that we live in a special place, but being able to walk in the woods rather than sheltering in place made me feel more grateful than I have felt in a long time.

Simple pleasures.

Getting outside is good for the body and soul, maybe now more than ever before. Thank goodness we can still bike, hike, run, climb. Given that until at least April 28 school as we know it will be off-limits, some of my friends in education are embracing the chance to begin a six week (or more) training program to prepare for running races that will, hopefully, be available in late spring or early summer.

I think we are all looking to find some order in our lives that have been turned upside down by this pandemic. Planning a training regiment is a good way to do that.

Spring races throughout Central Oregon are being called off or postponed. Sean Meissner, longtime director of the Peterson Ridge Rumble, pulled the plug on the race originally scheduled for April 26. Seventeen years of existence has made the Rumble almost a rite of spring for distance runners and I know Sean is heavy-hearted to have to nix the event for 2020.

We are social beings and runners love to gather. Even today as I soaked in the solitude of the forest I did feel a sense of loneliness for part of the time. The beauty of nature is enhanced when shared, so I imagined whether I could invite all my running friends to meet at the 1008 road, safely spaced apart, and do an out and back run in which we could at least simply wave or say a quick hello as we passed one another on the course.

Since I don’t want to create a health hazard or get on the wrong side of the CDC, I won’t be “organizing” such an event, but I do hope I will at least see — albeit at a safe distance — some of you out on the trails in the weeks to come.

But, looking to the future, with the loss of the Rumble and perhaps other local events, it might be a good idea to gather a group together for AFTER the pandemic has lifted and organize a new run, one to celebrate resilience, cooperation, community spirit, our natural surroundings, and even life itself.

Any takers? Feel free to contact me if you have ideas at [email protected]


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