Nine days of running through the Alps, soaring above the treeline and plunging into flower-filled valleys, refueling with incredible food at night? Sure, it might take a pronounced masochistic streak to count that as a bucket list experience — the trip averages nearly 17 miles a day, with thousands of feet of climbing thrown in — but once you get to the end of Christopher Solomon’s teeth-gritted travelog, you might just decide the wonder is worth the wincing.
As we gained altitude, the Via Valais uncorked the first of its many lessons: trail running here isn’t like trail running back home. Often it isn’t running at all, because the paths are so steep. How steep? I’ve been on escalators with less pitch. But aren’t there switchbacks? No, these apparently are the invention of lazy Americans. The Swiss favor the diretissima, the most aesthetic and uncompromising line straight up the mountain. On trails like this, a runner’s pride will ruin him faster than any blister. He must find a humbler rhythm to match the terrain.
“He has a story he wants to share, about what life looks like afterward. It does not offer Five Easy Steps to Bury Your Pain. He knows how deeply loss can cleave a person. But he also learned that we need other people to help pull us clear of the wreckage.”
“As long as he is here, their story, however unlikely, is not yet over. She cries because the end of him is the end of a possibility. And I think, not for the first time, how little I still know about love.”
In this poignant piece, longtime runner Christopher Solomon considers loss and the body’s inevitable decline as he recounts how his father helped him fall in love with running, what running has meant to him over the decades, and the injury that stands between him, daily roadwork, and the peace and joy that it can bring.
Christopher Solomon profiles the little-known sport of dock diving and one incredible athlete who already has five world records under his belt, or rather, collar: a 5-year-old whippet named Spitfire, Spitty for short.
A profile of Kathy Burek, a veterinary pathologist who performs necropsies on animals (whales, sea otters, polar bears) that mysteriously turn up dead in Alaska.
A seemingly average guy in Seattle has become an unlikely superhero on a bicycle.
A profile of Alex Holden, a Ukrainian immigrant who lives in Milwaukee and runs a cyber security firm. His work often takes him deep into the so-called Dark Web.