Monday, 14 December 2009

I have a habit when I read of folding over corners that I think at some stage I might want to go back to. Obviously I very rarely do, but just on occasion...
Last night was one such moment. I decided to have a little look back over Born to Run, and came across this beautiful quote:
How do you flip the internal switch that changes us all back into the Natural Born Runners we once were? Not just in history, but in our own lifetimes. Remember? Back when you were a kid and you had to be yelled at to slow down? Every game you played, you played at top speed, sprinting like crazy as you kicked cans, freed all, and attacked jungle outposts in your neighbours’ backyards. Half the fun of doing anything was doing it at record pace, making it probably the last time in your life you’d ever be hassled for going too fast.

That was the real secret of the Tarahumara: they’d never forgotten what it felt like to love running. They remembered that running was mankind’s first fine art, our original act of inspired creation. Way before we were scratching pictures on caves or beating rhythms on hollow trees, we were perfecting the art of combining our breath and mind and muscles into fluid self-propulsion over wild terrain. And when our ancestors finally did make their first cave paintings, what were the first designs? A downward slash, lightning bolts through the bottom and middle – behold, the Running Man…

But the American approach – ugh. Rotten at its core. It was too artificial and grabby, Vigil believed, too much about getting stuff and getting it now: medals, Nike deals, a cute butt. It wasn’t art; it was business, a hard-nosed quid pro quo. No wonder so many people hated running; if you thought it was only a means to an end – an investment in becoming faster, skinnier, richer – then why stick with it if you weren’t getting quo for your quid?

This to me has resonations throughout the world at the moment. Everything must be measured and analysed, usually so its worth can be quantified in monetary terms. But what runners know(and I don't mean just elite runners - in fact, they're most likely to have forgotten), and know perhaps better than anyone else in the world, is that some things are valuable just for themselves. This knowledge is what makes two such seemingly different people as Scott Jurek and Arnulfo Quimares (two of the heroes of Born to Run, pictured above) fundamentally similar, in a way that belies the cultural context of their lives, and is rooted in a deeply spiritual attitude to the world. You can see it in their faces. Beautiful, isn't it?


  1. Jon,

    Congratualtions on a tremendous achievement and very interesting blog.

    I'd love to bend your ear further about your work and studies, would you mind if i dropped you an email?

    I no longer have your address but i'm on


  2. Hello Jon

    I'm writing an article for an ethical magazine on greening sports events. I'd love some input/quotes from you. Could you email me on: aclaytonsmith @ (remove the spaces - avoiding spammers)?