Close to home    

In the Hudson Valley, and particularly here in Orange County, we tend to think of the running community as a fairly small one. Examining any of the race results that our dear friends from Fast Finishes post on coolrunning.com, we typically don't find more than a couple hundred runners or so at any given event.   A few events draw larger crowds due to their popularity (such as the Classic 10K, Celebrate Life Half Marathon and the Rhulen Rock Hill Run and Ramble), but for the most part, race events here cater to a fairly small portion of the general community-at-large.   And such as it is…..

But if we take ourselves outside of the scope of the local race scene, what we' ll find is that we aren't as small a group as our local 5K and 10K races might make us think.   For instance, I can't tell you how many times I am out driving around the county, going thru a local town, and I will see a runner who I know.  And the interesting thing is that I don't even have to see the runner's face to identify them.  All I have to do is see their gait, and I know who it is almost instantly.  I'm sure you all know this as well as I do.  But getting back to the point, as small a community as we think we are, our range is obviously quite wide, and our arms (or in this case, perhaps ‘legs' is a better way of putting it) reach out into places sometimes very far afield.

To illustrate this, I'll offer two personal examples:

1) In the Wurtsboro Mountain 30K in 2006, I met a small group of runners from the Taconic Runners Club. Ultra runners as they were, they had come to run the 30K as essentially a training run. One of those runners was a nice lady from Cos Cob, CT named Emmy Stocker. Fast forward now about 6 weeks to the Vermont City Marathon, the race I had been training for that spring.  At about the 12-mile mark, I hear someone calling from behind me “Todd, Todd.  Todd, it's Emmy from Wurtsboro.”

2) At a recent New York Road Runners event in Central Park, I lined up in my corral for what would be my first race with them (not counting the NY Marathon).  So here I am with 5,000 other runners, feeling like an alien amongst the avid and competitive lot of runners there.  And then as I look to my right, wondering what the guy next to me is thinking and feeling as gun time approaches, that guy turns out to be none other than my friend Bobby Darin of Salisbury Mills.  Who, by the way, told me that he was also there running his very first-ever NYRR race.

These aren't the only experiences like this that I've had – there have been several others (Kate Collins – Hudson Walkway Bridge. Remember?).  But what they say to me, and I'd bet this goes for virtually everyone reading this, is that no matter where we may go with our running, we are honestly and truly never very far from home.  The Universe, in its infinite power and wisdom, has a fascinating way of connecting us to one another by virtue of our shared involvement in the sport and with our community.

So as you run the roads of Orange County this spring and summer, and other destinations both near and far, do it with the knowledge that wherever you are, you are always close to home. Because you see, home is not a place.  Home is a feeling.  It is a spirit.  It is the set of values and ideals that we hold most dear. And it is a place that I gratefully share with all of you, my friends in the Orange Runners Club.

I hope you'll get out and run in some of the upcoming events on the near-term horizon, and particularly the 2 nd Annual Hudson Valley 15K, taking place on Sunday, April 11th in Blooming Grove.  Because as Dorothy Gale once came to find out in a fairly famous film, there truly is no place like home. 

Todd Jennings
ORC President