Sunday, August 26, 2018

lonely runner

Recently finished The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, by Alan Sillitoe, and it got me to thinking about school track teams. So I went back to some old school glossy-page yearbooks, and if you look closely, football players and even chess players stand shoulder-to-shoulder in team photos, smiles set and hair combed. But when you look at the track team, some of them have tucked in buttoned shirts and hard shoes, and even the coach, my shop teacher, seems out of place looking off into the distance thinking about his 12th cup of coffee before my hour in his woodshop coming up at 3pm. The track team looks harried like they all got together just a few seconds before the photo was snapped. No squares jaws and no toothy smiles. Nobody cheered these poor guys on. How would that have worked anyway? Would the cheerleaders have run 50 yards ahead to make a human pyramid and called out a corny cheer? Or maybe they piled into an old Volkswagen and puttered ahead just to setup. I don't know. Probably not. I think the long distance runners truly were lonely, out there on uneven back roads with their papered number attached to their shirt flapping in the breeze, and maybe that was best, since they probably threw up in the third mile because they were told not to eat before the event anyway.


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