by Steph Holton
I’m an avid runner. I have been since my high school Driver’s Ed instructor (also the cross country coach) convinced me to sign up, despite the fact that I couldn’t go more than a mile without thinking I was going to keel over right there on the course. And I definitely would not have stuck it out that first season, or the two more that I ran after that, if not for the incredible encouragement of not just my own team, but of the entire community that surrounds high school competitive running.
When I moved to Portland, I almost immediately fell in with the Campus Rec running club, Running Around Portland, and gained several running buddies who share my enthusiasm for the sport. I’ve often lamented to them, however, that the experience of running in the city is lacking the kind of support from other runners that is so prevalent in high school. With the alive and well running culture in Portland, I’d expect there to be more “hey there’s” and “keep it ups” between passing runners on the waterfront.
I recently was running down Springwater Corridor along the east side of the Willamette, a popular route for runners and cyclists, and passed a woman taking the trail at brisk walk but clearly out to enjoy the day more than anything. As I passed, she made a point to smile at me and say “good morning,” and honestly, it made my day. Since then, I’ve made a more concerted effort to smile when I pass other runners, and usually, they smile back. It’s a small thing, but it’s already made me feel closer to the Portland pedestrian community.