The Creepy Mile

Weeks ago, I planned to race the Trek or Treat Run in Oakville. It’s a popular and unique event (runners can choose between the 5K, 10k and Creepy Mile) which is held in Oakville; the run goes through the trails and around a cemetery at night, making headlights on runners mandatory. It is a terrific event for both runners and Halloween enthusiasts.

My recent bout of pneumonia put an end to my plans for this run. My boys, though, almost 4 and 9, both were looking forward to the Creepy Mile. How could Mommy say, “No”? So, we planned to reverse roles; this time, the boys would run and I would be the support crew – unless I thought I could keep up and run with them. We teamed up with friends (Daron, son and daughter) who are also of Irish descent and dubbed ourselves The Irish Pacesetters.

However, we hit another obstacle when a party invitation for Number 2 came home; times, of course, coincided with the boys’ run. The solution was easy: Plan A was to take him to the party, leave at 6:30 if he wasn’t happy (it was his first birthday party so anything could have happened) and go to the race together; Plan B was to drop off #2 at the party, drop off #1 at Friend’s house, pick up #2 at 7:30 and head to the race for the after-party. Either way, we would get to the race.

Even though I wasn’t running, I did end up doing a lot of running around as we ended up following Plan B. By the time, #2 and I arrived at the event, the 5K and 10K races were just getting started. Adults and kids alike were dressed in costume or in running gear. There was a incredible amount of excitement in the cool night air, a high level of energy that surpassed that of any other race that I’ve run.

My son and his friends had finished their run, claimed their unique black and orange ribbons and were busy feasting on pizza and candy. Once done, the four kids put their headlights back on and headed outside to the field – the totally dark field – to run around. Daron and I couldn’t help but laugh as we watched them run across the grass, headlights bobbing up and down, resembling excited little space creatures which arrived on Earth for the first time. The four of them ran, laughed, and turned off their lights so that they could sneak up and scare us in the dark; then, they laughed some more and ran away, headlights on.

I saw the first runners of the 5K cross the finish line but didn’t notice their times; watching my own boys laugh and play was much more exciting. For them, running was not about time or place but about being with friends and having fun.

These sub-9 year olds reminded me that running meets so many of our needs: the physical one, through the act of running; the emotional one by achieving goals, whatever they may be; the social one, by being with friends and others who share that same spirit and enthusiasm for being active. At different stages in our lives, one need becomes more important than the others but, every now and then, the scale tips, the balance shifts and another need becomes greater. For my boys, the need to run this race was primarily social. For me, attending it as a spectator fulfilled an emotional need. The physical need? That’s on the back-burner for now. But, I have a feeling it won’t be long before that need becomes dominant again.

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