Good People

I recently attended a screening of Unbreakable at a local, high school running camp. This is the first time I have watched the movie all the way through since shortly after it came out nearly two years ago. The timing of this was interesting in a couple of ways. Most obvious is the fact that, as I write this column, the 2013 edition of Western States is just three days away. By the time this article goes public, the dust will have settled and almost certainly another chapter will be added to the event’s legacy.

It’s been fun these past several days to think about what the details of this chapter might be. Will the fast, shorter-distance guys be able to hold on for 100 miles? (Unlikely, but certainly possible.) Will one of the many speedy veterans of recent WS races prevail, like Olson, Clark, Bowman, Sharman, Mackey, or another? Or is it possible for Mike Morton, who hasn’t run Western States in what feels like 100 years, to create one of the greatest story lines the race has ever known? How about the Speedgoat? Is it possible he’s actually a whole lot faster than we think? (I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Karl finish top five, and maybe even the podium.) On the women’s side, with Ellie out, you have likely an even-more-wide-open race. Almost certainly there is going to be a first-time winner in the women’s race. I’m excited to see who it will be.

Of course, by the time you all read this, these questions will have been answered so you might ask why I didn’t wait and write this column after the big race instead of now, when all I can do is speculate? The answer to this is a great way to introduce the other thing which came up for me when I watched Unbreakable the other day: I’m getting married on Sunday! Although I enjoy writing iRunFar articles, I’m thinking I might rather devote my free time in the next week to my amazing wife-to-be, and to my 100-plus guests (including nearly 50 from out of town) who are going to be gathered in Juneau for our big day. You might still be asking how this all ties into my other reaction from watching Unbreakable?

As I watched the movie, I noted how many people appear in it who have since become close friends of mine. In 2010, I was still relatively new to the ultrarunning culture. Certainly, I had some close friends who ran a lot, but just a small handful, not the dozens that I have now. As I was watching the film, I realized that there are no fewer than nine people (including Corle and I) featured in the film who are going to be at our wedding this weekend! Four or five of them I met for the first time at Western States in 2010. Thinking more about this last night made me really appreciate just how many good people I have met in this sport.

I’ve often wondered whether runners tend to be better people on average than non-runners, because it does sometimes seem this way. The truth is, though, I don’t think this is necessarily the case. Instead, I think that all people are inherently good people, but running does a huge part to help people to be closer to this reality. People who have a daily practice like running tend to be healthier, more grounded, and happier. It’s not that better people are attracted to running, it’s that running generally does a really good job of nurturing the goodness in people.

As I outlined above, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of amazing story lines that are going to come out of Western States this weekend. By the time this article is published, we will all know what many of these story lines are. In reality, though, the biggest story line of all might just be the subtle but powerful connections that are made out there on race weekend. After watching Unbreakable the other day, I realized that for me, the most powerful and most lasting thing I took away from that particular weekend three years ago wasn’t a cougar trophy, or a then course record, or the thrill of the competition, but rather the bonds I made with so many great people who were out there sharing some part of that experience with me. I know that you at Western States this year, and other upcoming races, will also be so lucky. We are good people.

There are 6 comments

  1. Thomas

    Hi Geoff,

    great article, you were one my first Ultra running Heros.

    "a fine line" and "unbreakable" are the best Videos I know.

    You are still one of the best Ultra runner of the world altough you are not running ultras anymore. Your thoughts are so inspiring, you may come back, hopefully. who knows.

    But you and the Ultra running communiy are good People for sure!!. Fore you and your familiy all the best.

    take care thomas

  2. Chris

    Funny, I was thinking the same thing watching the finish line interview with Tim and Rob. These seem like two really good people who pushed each other to the limits for over 15 hours and then sat down to compliment each other. I loved the camaraderie and respect they both showed.

  3. CJ

    Geoff, congrats to you & Corle! May each year of marriage grow sweeter & sweeter. I'll say the same thing to you I said to my brother & his wife when doing the best man toast at their wedding. Down the road when you guys experience some rough moments and the temptation is to think the grass is greener on the other side, just remember…the grass is greenest wherever you water it.

    I'm so thankful for my wife of almost 15 years

  4. Shelby

    Congratulations on your marriage to Corle — wishing you a lifetime of joy and happiness. Echoing what CJ said, water that grass and no matter what happens, you'll move out into the world in strength… together.

    I'm happy to see you back out running in Alaska. I've been running there for the first time since becoming an ultrarunner and I agree, they are "proper" mountains. It's great to run trails that make a beeline straight to the top!

  5. melinda

    This made my evening. I agree that a daily practice – running, yoga, climbing, biking – is a good thing. Congrats on your marriage. I wish you many happy years.

  6. Cara

    Great sentiments Geoff and great article. I remember running with you a few years ago at a pre-Run Rabbit Run trail run for some locals and press, and I always thought how kind and down to earth you were as we were chatting on the trail. Congrats on your wedding and the years to come!

  7. Sarah

    Congratulations on getting married! I'll be thinking about you on Sunday when my husband and I are celebrating our 1st anniversary. We had a couple tables of runners at our wedding and I was so happy to share such an important day with them.

  8. John


    Congratulations on your wedding. My favorite line from Unbreakable was about you (paraphrasing): "Jeff is the kindest person I know"!

  9. Patrick L

    Congratulations on your big day, Geoff! While I have enjoyed your take on various topics through your articles, this is definitely the truest and my favorite. Enjoy your and Corle's day!

  10. Lisa

    Such a nice article Geoff! I remember watching a preview of Unbreakable and Corle shared that you were the kindest person she had ever met. The way she said it was so genuine and I thought, how wonderful to be able to say that. And you are so right, runners are fun people!

    Congratulations to you and Corle!

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