The Leatherman’s Loop is an experience that each year reconnects runners with one another and Mother Earth. It leaves me rejuvenated, whole again. It’s a homecoming, a celebration of spring, on or around Earth Day. I’ve missed the event only once, for a funeral, since my inaugural immersion in 2006. This year’s race seemed as new and life-affirming as my first, and perhaps more so than all those in between.
I met up with fellow Essex Running Club members in the field at the center of the universe—a huge field with its own huge sky at the heart of the Loop in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River, New York.
Hey, there are Glenn and Stephen. Minutes later, Elsa, Tracy, Fernando, Wayne. And, glad to meet you, Dave. Each year the mix of ERC members is different. Glenn, Elsa, and Tracy were returnees, as was Wayne Carlson. Wayne ran the Loop with me in 2006 but is injured and could not partake this year. Let’s wish him well in his recovery. Stephen and Fernando were here to get their feet wet. Muddy, too. And Dave is Fernando’s friend David Finck, who came to hang out, cheer, and take photos.
“Dave,” Fernando later wrote me, “is the president of Mission Peak Striders, the club I belonged to when I was living in California.” Dave had been in Boston six days before this 27th Loop. He’d finished the marathon in 3:37 and had a safe reunion with his wife, Victoria. She had been waiting for him across the street from the spot where the first bomb exploded. After Boston, “Dave and Victoria came to stay with us for a couple of days.”
The traumatic news of the Boston murders and maiming, the worry about the well-being of our friends at the marathon, and the media storm and dreadful tension surrounding the hunt for the bombers had made the week leading up to the Loop an ordeal. Horrific, pressured-filled, claustrophobic. Little wonder that, once the spell broke, with the death of one brother and the capture of the other, I felt a weight lifted. I also wanted to see people, lots of people, to escape to where the sky was not pressing down but lifting up, to run myself ragged, with beauty all around—to drive out the bad with the good.
Joining and participating in community and nature … running with and inspiring others … wading in, kicking up some dirt, becoming healthier with each step. The Loop has always fostered these activities, but this year I wanted and appreciated them more, and perhaps many other Loopers did as well. My sense was that everyone was acutely glad, extra eager, to be there. Maybe everyone was relieved to be there, too.
Runners, spectators, and volunteers swirled ‘round the registration area and roamed the field. After checking in, some folks carried bags of canned and dry food to the Help Feed the Leatherman tent a few feet away. (All told, 1100 pounds’ worth was collected for donation to the Community Center of Northern Westchester, ultimately for distribution to families in need.)
On the chilly reservation, some runners warmed up for the race trotting back and forth. Others warmed up rekindling friendships made at prior Loops. The fresh air was thick with lively, good-spirited talk, a sense of peace. It was wonderful to say hello to Loop leader Tony Godino again, to bump into other friends from these and other trails, and to make new acquaintances.
Soon everyone was migrating over to the starting line, where there were words of welcome for the runners, and words of remembrance for the bombing victims. There was a blessing we could carry with us, and there was a hymn that, beautifully sung, sent us on our way. Listen for yourself, at the recap link below.
Eight days earlier, I did the hilly Bull Run Run trail race in Clifton, Virginia. With my legs still recovering the day before the Loop, I wondered what kind of struggle I had ahead of me, whether I might have to walk a lot of the course. When the hymn ended, I forgot everything and ran.
Stephen Sundown … 49:26
Glenn Trimboli … 53:12
Chris Jaworski … 1:02:47
Fernando Padilla … 1:17:56
Tracy Keller … 1:17:56
Elsa Slater … 1:17:56
Complete results: http://leathermansloop.org/2013/04/2013-results/
Official recap, includes audio clips of prerace blessing & singing of “Amazing Grace”: http://leathermansloop.org/2013/04/2013-recap/
8400+ photos & some videos: http://leathermansloop.org/2013/04/photo-links-from-2013-loop/
Time-lapse video, condenses event’s 2.5 hours into 2.5 minutes: