Vidakovich column: The running columnist
Just about a half mile into my morning runs up toward the Glenwood Fish Hatchery, I always stop at Victor and Lois Gabossi’s pasture to feed my three buddies. They wait patiently along the fence in the early morning hours, hoping that the tall, skinny, old guy will come trotting along with his baggie of goodies filled with cut-up apples and baby carrots.
You have probably guessed by now that my morning rendezvous is not with creatures of the human variety but of the equine persuasion. I guess I need to correct myself here: There are actually two horses that I have named War Admiral and Seabiscuit. The third four-legged charmer is a donkey I call Sherman. Little do these characters know that the flapping ears and wagging tails they greet me with are often the best part of my day. I don’t even mind having my hand full of slobber when I bid them adieu and continue on my journey up the peaceful early dawn roadway.
I more often than not have that road to myself and my thoughts at that time of day. There are some familiar faces who dot the road on occasion as I am passing by. It’s mostly walkers like Paula, whom I call “The Queen of the Mountain” for her frequent and often twice-a-day trips up to the fish hatchery and beyond. I do believe she could walk that road with a blindfold on. Sometimes I catch her breaking into a jog on the way down just to spice up the morning. She’s a regular on the hill and has been for years.
I guess it was a morning in mid-spring when I spied an unfamiliar walker ambling down the road toward me just below the hatchery. I run without my glasses, so I am nearly blind until I get right upon someone or something. Just for the record, in all my years of running that road, I have never come face to face with Mr. Bear or Mr. Mountain Lion. Yogi or Boo Boo wouldn’t bother me much, but the lion would be a different story. Knock on wood.
A friendly wave came my way as the morning mystery walker got closer. He must have left early, I thought, to be on the way down the hill at this early hour.
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The ear buds came out of the walker’s ears, and I was close enough now to recognize the smile on Mitch Mulhall, my class of 1979 Glenwood High School friend. Many of you may know the name. Mitch is a regular columnist for this paper, and his writing skills are the envy of my eye each time I read his thoughts on the current events of the world.
“Mike, I decided to start doing this, before the doctor told me someday I had to do it,” said Mulhall when I told him I was surprised to see him on the road. He told me the walking was something he had just started in the past few days and that he was determined to stay with it. After catching up on some small talk, Mitch and I parted ways and headed off in opposite directions. I honestly didn’t think I would see him on the road again, especially with how steep the climb could be up Mitchell Creek Road.
Boy, was I mistaken.
Instead of Mitchell Creek, I may start calling the winding path up the mountain “Mitch’s Road,” because he is out every morning now, and much earlier than I drag myself out of bed. His walk became a run by the month of June, and I am lucky to catch him on the road these days because he is usually heading past my house on the way home while I am still in the garage feebly attempting to stretch out my creaky limbs.
I told Mitch on a morning encounter a few days ago that he is becoming my running hero. I’m now trying to get up earlier on my running days so I can at least give him a high five as we pass, but we almost always now stop and chat. Reminiscing about the old times never gets old. I told him neither does running. It’s good for your body, mind and spirit.
“The Running Columnist!” That’s what I called out to him just a few mornings ago as we parted.
He probably had no idea I would put it in print, but the truth be told, I already had a column of my own in my head about an old friend and a new runner by the time I reached my house.
Glenwood Springs native Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer and youth sports coach. His column appears on occasion in the Post Independent and at PostIndependent.com.
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