At one point, John thought it was a great idea to start running. He was a big guy, more footballer than runner, but he liked to stay fit, so running was an easy choice… because after buying the shoes, it’s free. You can pretty much do it anywhere, and he liked listening to his tunes on the go.
He had heard of a “couch to 5k” application that suited his goals. It wasn’t anything too strenuous, and you could complete it at your own pace. It was narrated by a soothing lady’s voice with a British accent. The intention was to get the non runner up to snuff for a 5km run in a few weeks.
Where we lived, and I continue to reside, is quite runner friendly. Wooded trails nearby (my fave) and copious amounts of wide, flat sidewalks, quiet streets and a small cemetery with towering trees, where John chose to begin his running venture.
Spoiler alert. He didn’t keep running. Turns out his body wasn’t quite built that way. On advice of his doctor and physiotherapist, he stopped. He wasn’t exactly heartbroken over the news that running wasn’t for him. He was quite fond (and good at) lifting weights.
I used to go with him on his jogs, and he got a bit frustrated that I wasn’t huffing, puffing or sweating. Meanwhile, he was drenched and red faced. My body is better suited to running, poor guy.
While he was out running, he couldn’t help but notice a diminutive gentleman with a tussle of white hair running on what seemed to be impossibly wiry legs. With his beat up runners and his somewhat shabby no spandex running gear, you’d wonder what his story was.
His story is one of record breaking determination.
That gentleman was Ed Whitlock.
Recently passed away, Ed holds and will undoubtedly continue to hold numerous running world records for his age group. He finished the Toronto Waterfront marathon in under 4 hours in his 80’s.
John was quite enthralled with this man who chose to shuffle about the same cemetery where John began, and ended, his running stint. Although we never chatted with Mr. Whitlock, Ed always gave John a courteous wave and a nod, seemingly to say “you got this, big guy”. When I think about it, John was double Ed’s weight, but was half of Ed’s age.
It Makes me sad that JohnBehr will never be Ed’s age.
Ed didn’t hit his stride, so to speak, until later on in his years. He didn’t start running seriously until he was about our age.
Kinda gives me hope I won’t always be a slowpoke short on endurance.
Even after the running fad came and went, John and I would go for walks about town, often seeing Ed going about his kilometres at a steady pace, in his own running world.
We were honoured to have him in our town. I’ve thought about him on a few of my runs, usually when I’m ready to say to heck with 10 k, I’ll stop at 8…. Ed says to go for the 10… so does John. As much as John did not enjoy the running, he would be glad to see me out there. I have no doubt Ed and John have crossed paths wherever they are; John waving back to Mr. Whitlock’s’ courteous nod.
I’d like to think John cheers me on every now and then.
Who knows… maybe John has told Ed about me and perhaps I get a courteous nod when I’m shuffling about town or on the trails, running both towards and away from sadness, both away and towards happiness, but always running towards healing.