For a solid ten years, we have traveled to Wilmington, Delaware for many races. The distances have ranged from 10K to a Marathon, and he has been at EVERY race. We don’t know his name. We simply refer to him as “the dude in the red split shorts.”
I guess there’s nothing unique about him, except for the fact that he’s in his 80s. He runs shirtless, and, yes, in red split shorts. Normally, these are two items I would classify as violations:
1) Running shirtless and
2) Wearing split shorts
However, I think this guy has earned the right to wear whatever he wants to wear (or not wear). In fact, I hope to be “that guy” someday. He’s not fast, but he’s moving. He might look slightly out of place, but he’s out there!
The ultimate running goal, at least for me, is to run over a lifetime, and my goodness is this guy the definition of it or what? Really though, I know nothing about him. In fact, I kick myself for never making a real effort to shake his hand or say hello to him. Yes, I’m generally not an outgoing person, but maybe I am guilty of taking him for granted. I think we sometimes do this with the elderly.
For example, if not for Runner’s World’s amazing July article on Bill Iffrig, he might simply be known only as the “old guy that fell and got up” during the bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line. However, his story is amazing. Mr. Iffrig built his family house soup to nuts with his bare hands at night while working full time at a mill during the day. He didn’t START running until he was in his 40s, but he turned out to be pretty fast. Bill still runs with a training group: the Port Gardner Bay Runners. Anyway, you get the point.
So, the next time I line up next to the dude in the red split shorts, I plan on learning something about him too. I’ll start with his name, but I bet he has a good story to tell as well.