Runner’s World has a feature called “Rave Run” where they showcase exceptional places to run, usually accompanied by wonderful pictures of runs through some scenic location. I cannot look at one of these pictures without wanting to go to the featured location. I would like to be able to run in all of them. I have some nice runs around my neighborhood, in the autumn it is especially nice to run on country roads framed with vibrant red and yellow maples, or on trails that pass sleepy farmhouses and still waters. I’ve enjoyed some good runs, but I have one rave run.
I get to do my rave run every summer. Out and back it’s about 5 miles, mentally it takes me a thousand miles from my normal everyday life, and somehow shows me what matters and what does not. The first characteristic of my rave run is the absolute quiet and stillness of the setting, the second is its physical beauty. There is something about the combination of a feast for the eyes, silence and physical exertion that clears the mind and uplifts the spirit.
For two miles I follow a road along the sea front. I am in the grounds of the Lewis Castle, looking across the harbor to the town of Stornoway. In the distance I can hear some clanking sounds from the boats in the bay as tiny waves move them. The road winds along the front, my feet thud on the gravel. I pass a few people walking and see one other runner. In 15 minutes I am nearly at the end of the road, where it begins to turn and climb inland. I marvel that I used to walk this route often, and considered it a long way! Distances that seemed so long when I was young seem so short now. Places that seemed so big are smaller, but this one is not diminished by its size. Packed into a small area is a variety of scenery, all of which I love with the kind of love that is only possible with long association. Looking out to my left I can see the outer harbor, stretching to the horizon, with the misty hills of the Scottish mainland vaguely visible in the distance. To the right, the path turns uphill and weaves through heathery moorland towards the mouth of the Creed River. I follow the path inland and run beside the river. My aching lungs tell me that this is a long gradual climb—I hadn’t noticed that before. The silence is broken by the crashing of the brown peaty water as it passes over the rocks on its way to the sea.
Further upriver the silence returns. The river slows and forms still pools, a couple of people are fishing in one of them, their faces covered in net to keep the midges at bay. Now the silence is absolute. The evening light is magical and glints on the water. The only sounds are my breath and my footfalls. I stop and listen. I understand now what is meant by the sound of silence. The silence is active. This world exists apart from all the business of life, and out here I realize that some of the things I have worked hard on recently don’t really matter much at all. Some of the things I have worried about are not really all that important—and other things I have been too busy to attend to matter a great deal! My perspective is adjusted, peace comes.
I reach my turnaround and retrace my steps. I think I’m getting faster but then realize that I’m going gradually downhill to the river mouth. Up a big hill now—I might have to walk for a bit. Now back to the sea. I have to stop again to take some pictures, my time will not be good. That’s the only problem with a rave run—the temptation to stop for a photo. I hope you enjoy the ones I have posted here. I won’t tell you my time for the 5 miles—let’s just say that it’s not my personal record.