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home : columns : columns May 24, 2016

6/24/2014 11:12:00 AM
Running commentary
By Charlie Kanzig

A day after arriving back in Sisters after a school year in South Korea, my wife and I gathered up our two dogs and hit the trail for our first run since our return through the forest at the edge of town.

Dust puffed up from the trail, coating our shoes. Indian paintbrush, balsam root, and lupine lined the trail. Through the ponderosas we caught glimpses of the bright white mountaintops backed by the clear blue sky.

Despite my being quite out of condition, my soul felt renewed.

Locals know it in their hearts what a special place we live in. Visitors clamor here to enjoy it for a weekend. In terms of access to nature via trails and dirt roads, the Sisters area rivals any place that I have ever been to or heard about. We live in a runner's paradise.

My own love for running is what has been a driving force for me as a running coach since 1983. Just like my renewed appreciation for living here, I experienced a similar reminder recently of why I coach.

I got to visit with Brandon Pollard, the recently crowned 4A 800-meter champion who will continue his competitive career at Gonzaga University in Spokane. As his former coach, I felt great happiness for his accomplishments. His hard work and focus over the past seven years has paid off.

The very next day, while preparing to write this article while sitting at Sisters Coffee Company, I saw Jessie Durham. Without prompting she said, "I should have told you this before, but I don't think I would be a runner today if I hadn't joined the cross-country team at Sisters High School my senior year."

She went on to let me know how thankful she was to Rima Givot and me as coaches and that she had recently finished a trail half-marathon at Timothy Lake. She can't imagine not being a runner.

The day before I left South Korea, Hojoon Lee, one of my runners from the Taejon Christian International School cross-country team swung in to say goodbye to me. He will be attending Willamette University in Salem next year and told me that he plans to run all summer so that when he gets to Willamette in August he will be ready for a time trial that might qualify him to train with the team.

My encounters with these three runners illuminated for me once again the reasons behind my passion for coaching runners. While developing champion-level runners, it is equally satisfying to develop life-long runners.

So, while I am here for the next few weeks, I hope to run into more of my former runners and to encourage those future runners while also relishing every single outing on the trails of Sisters.

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