On her 22-mile runs, Munira Shamim encounters runners with varying athletic abilities and backgrounds. It’s why she sees the trail as a great unifier and community.
Los Gatos Creek Trail is a 5-minute drive from my home in Saratoga, California. As a runner who trains for marathons, I’ve spent more time on the trail than I have in some parts of my own home. The trail provides me with miles and miles of paved asphalt for the many hours of my grueling training. From Lexington Reservoir, I run through one county and several neighborhood parks until I end up in San Jose. Then I turn around and make my way home.
Over the years, the trail has become a metaphor for community to me because it brings together all kinds of runners being their authentic selves.
You see, the real estate used by runners — the trail — is accessible to everyone. There is no separation of the elite from the recreational, or the seasoned from the novice. You’ll find the lean cross-country high schooler and the hunched-over 80 year old running on the same trail. You’ll find a new runner and a runner recovering from an injury running on the same path. And you’ll find me, the hijabi, running next to the dad pushing his two kids in a stroller.
Sometimes we run next to each other and sometimes we run past each other. We nod, we smile and we exchange small words of encouragement as we pass. Strangers on a path, united in our effort.
Because we know that what we’re doing is hard. Because our hearts are racing, our muscles aching and our skin sweating profusely. We bring along our differing ages, races, injuries, beliefs, work and family responsibilities and we pound away at the gravel. In this rhythm, we are one.
In this way, the quick nod and smile exchange says, “Congratulations on facing your challenges and showing up today. I am doing the same, and I am with you!”
With a Perspective, I’m Munira Shamim.
Munira Shamim is an attorney in Saratoga, California.