Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hope in the Darkness

In tears she said, “We are not guaranteed tomorrow so I’m going to tell you this now… I love you and cherish our friendship.”

I somehow managed to make it out of the public eye and into my car before my face became drenched.

When I stumbled into a stranger’s house one bitter, cold January night… I never thought a lifelong friendship would start. During the Snowpocalypse, a family opened their home to me. Though having only met me once before (on the top of a mountain… they willingly gave me a place to sleep and a warm meal without hesitation… and since that night… they’ve become family.

The relationships and friendships I have gained through trail running are bar none. I’ve met some of the most loving, kind hearted and genuine people along the trail. What is it that binds people together this way? Is it the simplicity of nature? Is it the fact that nature was the original foundation of creation? Nature is the universal language and everyone is capable of understanding it if they simply take the time to listen and learn from it.

Trail running means something different to every single person. Some people use it as a means of escape… to escape a bad situation, a stressful job… or really anything that can make you feel trapped...

Others view trail running as a way to push themselves to new limits. When people suffer together... they are bound together in an unusual way...

Some simply use it as a means to explore nature’s beauty…

Some of my closest friends live hundreds and thousands of miles away. Say what you want about social media and technology…but they keep us connected to people we rarely get to see.

I met my buddy Steve after a trail half marathon down in Pensacola a few years back. I went down alone on a “mancation” and stumbled upon a race last minute. After the race, he waved me over to his group where we enjoyed craft brews and trail talk. We stayed connected through social media and after signing up for the Georgia Death Race, we met up at the Hiker Hostel in the North Georgia mountains for some GDR training and local brews. Even though he’s moved out to Colorado… we still keep in touch regularly (mainly by him flaunting pictures of big mountains and local brews).

I met Erin in the lobby of a hostel in Chattanooga. We were all down having some pre race brews and swapping  trail stories before a Rock/Creek race the next day. After the race we got a group up for lunch and then went back out to the woods for 13 additional miles.

Ever since then we have been great friends. She contributed to the successful completion of the Pitchell “’fun run” and I am forever grateful to her for that.  

These are just two examples of wonderful people I have met along the trail. I can’t even begin to name, mention or describe everyone in the local trail running community to which I belong. Simply put… these are some of the best people I have the privilege of knowing.

The kind folks that sheltered me during the Snowpocalypse were the Workman’s. Ever since then we have been close. Sunny and I have enjoyed throwing down some long training miles in the woods together…

I was out on my bike last week and had the pleasure of tagging along on one of Owen’s Xterra training runs…

When Sunny sent me a text with some tragic news… I felt their pain and loss. Not because I personally knew the family member that passed away… but because when people you care about hurt… you hurt. In times like these, there is not much you can do… so I did the only thing I knew I could. I prayed and  I asked the people closest to me to pray specifically for this family. If you believe in God and pray… please keep this family in your prayers… if you are more spiritual than religious… please send good vibes and positive energy to them.

Life is short… cherish every moment. 

Climb big mountains, enjoy beautiful views... 

Explore new areas, breathe deeply and feel alive. Create new friendships, rekindle old ones.

Be a bigger person and stomp out old grudges. Make amends. Take nothing for granted. Tell the people that mean the most to you that you love them. You never know when you’ll see them again.

“So give me hope in the darkness, that I will see the light.”  - Mumford and Sons

Till tomorrow…



  1. Even periferally, I am honored to know you Zach! You are truly a good person.

  2. Really enjoyed reading this. I hope to sometimes soon start enjoying some trails.