Beauty before me when I run.
Beauty behind me when I run.
Beauty below me when I run.
Beauty above me when I run.
Beauty beside me when I run.
Beauty within me when I run.
I see Beauty all around.
In beauty may I walk.
In beauty may I see.
In beauty may we all be. - Danny The Lion
I first heard of the Leatherman’s Loop from my friend the White Horse, who said last year we should all run it together as a quick post-UMCB reunion. “These people”, he told me, “you will love. They get it.” The Leatherman’s Loop turned out to be my first run after Micah disappeared, a moment of abysmal sadness, but also my first moment of hope. I was welcomed with open arms by a whole community of complete strangers who instantly turned into family. I met Christy Little Wings, El Copadre Tony, Gerry the Red Zorro and Eamonn who runs like the wind, Kurt, Dean, Mike, Rob and so many others.
Coming back this year was, as were many other experiences over the past year, like completing a circle. I like that the event happens right after the last clouds of winter, as the first blue skies of spring start to light up life again. And as each spring brings new wonders and discoveries, so did this year’s Leatherman’s Loop. I was hosted by race founder Dave Cope in his beautiful house by the lake, with circling red-tailed hawks over the peaceful, quiet forest. I spent fantastic moments, sitting in the van, just talking about life and its struggles, then I was taught to juggle. I saw my friend El Copadre being honored by a whole community who recognizes the values of curiosity, storytelling and the preservation of history. I shared trails with friends, old and new.
We all shivered together, Sunday morning on the starting line. Dean and his gorgeous wild mane, Kurt with his Jesus sandals, Olaf with my shoes, Christy with a cheek-to-cheek grin, Gerry with his game face on, and me with way too many layers of clothing. All was good in the world. Danny stepped up and blessed us with beauty, then someone rang a cowbell. Everyone, including Santa Claus and the orange-haired troll, rampaged down the open field. The Leatherman’s Loop was on again.
Since Kurt was wearing his feathered adventure hat, we ran singing the Indiana Jones theme. Sadly, we lost Gorgeous Dean somewhere before the first river crossing, but we pressed on, mixing running, tree-dodging and mud skating. We splished and we splashed and, of course, it was over way too soon, but not before Kurt found a way to end up barefoot again.
I completed my run passing the mariachis, grinning and laughing, with mud stains up to my ears, high-fiving the other finishers and stuffing my face with bananas and a fantastic new discovery called an “everything bagel”. I can’t see a better way to spend a Sunday morning.
I will be back again at The Leatherman’s Loop, to swim in the mud of course, but mostly to be totally surrounded by the beauty and happiness that warms my heart and fills me with pure joy.