Cover Art_Black Letters

Musings on Running and Coming Home from War

Intro by David Chrisinger, author Anonymous

He was a Marine for four years—check that, he is a Marine. He deployed to Iraq twice. The first time, he was sent to Abu Ghraib prison as part of a “provisional infantry” unit and served as a designated marksman and fire team leader. After seven or eight months, he was sent home, had a short break, and then was “volun-told” that he’d be changing units and going back to Iraq.

“They needed experienced NCOs,” he told me.

This time, he was sent to Ramadi and served again as a designated marksman and fire team leader.

“From what I can tell,” his wife said, “the first deployment didn’t cause much change in him. But the second deployment was different.”

When he came home from Ramadi, “gone was that beautiful smile I fell in love with,” his wife continued, “that innocent guy who would shake anyone’s hand. Now he was a man weighed down by the world, who had seen things no one can imagine.”

Two years ago, he started running. His first race was an 18-mile steeple chase, which he ran with practically no training. “I finished,” he told me, “but I hated life.”

Then he started training, built up his endurance, and learned how to properly run on trails. Six months after his first race, he ran his first ultra-marathon—a 50K. He finished after getting lost and adding another seven miles to his race.

I asked him what running did for him as he transitioned out of the Marine Corps and back into the civilian world.

“I’ve actually written about that,” he told me. “Do you want to read it?”

“Of course,” I told him.

 

Musings…

Perhaps the genius of ultra-running is its supreme lack of utility.

It really makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot.

There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers and loved ones.

But as poets, apostles, and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense.

The ultra-runners know this instinctively I think.

And they know something else that is lost on the sedentary.

They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort.

In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being.

It is during this time that the mind and spirit can heal.

The loss of friends and the memories of violence can be worked through.

The sounds of explosions, gunfire, and screaming echoing through the mind can be silenced.

The sights and sounds of nature remind you that there is still good in this world, and you can continue forward for another day.