Regulars and Shorts, Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: July 2013

By Dennis Hinkamp

So many more ways to run.

by Dennis Hinkamp

Back in the near ancient past I was a prolific, if not distinguished, runner. I had logged enough miles to join the Round the World running club and had completed 10 marathons all before age 24. Then came the dark years which I refer to as IRBP (Injury, Rest, Beer and Pizza).

When I snapped out of it in my early 50s, I found that everything had changed. It was as if I’d been living in nuclear fallout bunker for three decades. What was once a simple one-foot-in-front-of-the-other activity had mutated into something almost unrecognizable.

I drove by one of Cache Valley’s 32 Cross Boot Fit Camp emporiums and saw people running down the street backwards. I went to the sports equipment stores to retread my feet and found that it was selling something oxymoronically named “a barefoot running shoe.” What planet had I returned to?

It got worse. It turns out there are groups of people who pay lots of money to run these relays called RAGNAR. I thought RAGNAR stood for Really Awful Gnarly Numbing Agonizing Relay, but I was wrong. Actually Ragnar Lodbrock was some Scandi­navian Viking sort of crazy person who may or may not have existed in historical records. Okay, my bad. My friends who do this say they just love to spend two days in a van with 11 other sweaty people covering 200 miles in incremental chunks. To me it sounds like the worst family vacation ever.

There are other groups of people paying to enjoy the porcine pleasures of running through mud without the fear of becoming bacon afterwards. I have done this a few times, but it was usually the result of taking a wrong turn on a long trail run on a rainy day. Some variations of these mud runs include actual military boot camp activities such as climbing over walls and slithering under barbed wire. I have watched all the evil drill sergeant movies ever made and this cannot end well.

Two weeks ago I saw a young woman at the gardeners’ market who looked as if she had tie-dyed not just her clothes but her body. The odd thing was that she was wearing running clothes. I’m all for self-expression, but I had to ask why she was decorated so. She said she had just come from a Color Run. My 60s-self wanted to raise a 1968 Olympics John Carlos/Tommy Smith fist of solidarity with black power, but apparently that is not what it was about. The Color Run is a 5K race where they throw water soluble dye on you. It is a way to encourage first timers to experience the fun aspect of running. I approve.

Really, I approve of anything that gets people off the couch, away from any of their iThings and moving in any manner. My heyday of running was way too disciplined and stoic. Running miles along the side of the road for no good reason made you fair game to be mocked. You only joined the track or cross country team because you couldn’t get a letter in football, basketball or baseball. Things are better now.

Run long and prosper, my young friends.

Dennis Hinkamp can be seen simply putting one foot in front of the other several times a week on the Bonneville Shoreline trail in Logan.

This article was originally published on June 28, 2013.