Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hardy Souls Willing to Unconditionally Follow a Good Path

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hardy Souls Willing to Unconditionally Follow a Good Path

Article excerpt

Runners, fast walkers, strollers -- if you make your way around the track of Greensburg's Lynch Field regularly, as I have, you hobnob with them all.

Even on frosty days the hardiest participants are there, barely missing a beat of their cadence as they sidestep icy patches. Some pass me quickly with a flash of greeting, their arms chugging like piston rods and feet propelling them forward with each precise step.

For others, it is an exercise in sociability, matching strides with a companion. Their arms flag, their tongues wag as they share bits and pieces of their day with a rhythm that is snappy.

The frail ones move at a snail's pace, cautious on their arduous journey. They secure each step with a cane extended from one hand while the other clutches the arm of a help mate. Speedy sprinters often smile, encouraging the struggler with a "thumbs up," noting their progress as they pass.

They don't stop to question the origin of this painstaking attempt, though they may wonder: a stroke perhaps, or an accident? The relationship they share is confined to an approximate mile, not the ins and outs, nor the length and breadth, of each one's life or years.

Yet there is a kinship among these strangers. Each knows the path well -- ice slicks in winter, puddles that collect from melting snow in spring, even the iron sewer cap that protrudes above the asphalt, lying unnoticed to catch the toe of a Nike, perhaps, or a Rockport.

Squirrels dart close, their furry tails frisking side to side while walkers with a "soft touch" break stride to toss a handful of peanuts from a pocket toward those eager rodents. Near the creek, honking ducks waddle to the path's fringe, knowing a sympathetic sojourner will offer kernels of corn or seeds.

Freedom! There is freedom in this brief pursuit of exercise. Cares are abandoned as trackers inhale the sweetness of a spring breeze or revel in the sun's all-encompassing summer warmth.

Unrestricted movements are possible with loose-fitting apparel: the sweats, fleeces, shorts and T-shirts sporting messages. …

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