"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Critters on the Trail

As our neighborhood is connected to the Muddy Creek Trail, you would be right to assume that I spend most of my non-Salem Lake and non-Y treadmill time running this path.  It's perfect for a short recovery run to a really nice 9 mile out and back.  Paved, mostly flat, scenic and typically enjoyed by just the right number of runners and walkers that make it seem wide open, yet not as if you are out all alone.  In fact, checking Garmin, over the past year I have run the MCT 52 times!  I guess it's really my home course. 

Well, this past weekend I was reminded of another element of the trail, and running long distances in general, that make it much more "exciting" then simply running around the block or at the gym.  The CRITTERS!  You know, I had read stories for years of how regular runners will routinely cross God's creatures along the route.  Some of these encounters are breathtaking, (I think back to a recent photo from a friend in Texas that came up on a large Peacock), and some of these encounters are near life-threatening, (think bear, coyote, bobcat). Most recently, with a run this past Sunday, and going back several years, I have been blessed to cross a few of each.

What made Sunday pretty amazing was that the trail was pretty active and that it happened twice.  The first interaction occurred toward an end of the trail where I have seen snakes before.  So I am always looking out ahead of me.  Sure enough, up ahead a 4 foot black snake, (very similar to photo above), made it's way onto the path.  He stopped and very politely allowed me to circle out around him on the other side.  We wished each other well and he quickly slithered back into the grass.  Of course there is always a bit of an elevated heart rate, but having come across these non-aggressive water snakes before, I stay pretty calm.  However, when you are not expecting it .................

Fast forward 3 miles to mile 7, and back toward the neighborhood where I normally don't see snakes.  I know that I am exactly at 7 miles because I was playing with my watch, going through the various screens when there it was. Just a few feet in front of me, or should I say, under me.  Whew!  Man, the only option was to hurdle the snake and hope like heck that it could not strike straight up.  I'm sure I wasn't as graceful as Edwin Moses, but I do know I got up really high and jumped out really far.  Again, a 4 foot black snake laying perfectly still on the path.  Only this time it was between my legs and I'm trying to, a) move out of there really fast, and b) not have a heart attack!  Fortunately I was successful at both.  Although, the heart rate monitor started smoking.

Anyway, that got me thinking about just this past year on Muddy Creek.  Whether on a 4 a.m. winter morning run, a mid-day summer swelter or anything in between, I have come within thirty feet of the following (most on multiple occasions): snake, rabbit, deer, red fox, hawk, possum, bright colorful jays and cardinals, various rodents, rabid raccoon, turkeys, owls, and no telling what else those little glowing lights at dark were from the bushes. Yes, always an adventure and more and more appreciated each time, (except maybe for the snakes).  So, if you are in Winston-Salem, the MCT is definitely worth a try.  Besides it might even save you a trip to the Zoo. 

Make it a great day.


  1. Oh, Diamond, it will take more than a few critters to scare me off... You forget that I grew up country..I don't want to have tea with any of them but it makes the run a bit more interesting!