The first mile I ever ran was the last mile of the 1983 Boston Marathon. How many people can say that? I was eleven years old at the time, and my dad had brought the whole family down from New Hampshire to cheer him on as he ran his first Boston. My two brothers and I crossed the finish line with him, and the next day, back home in New Hampshire, I went for a six-mile run by myself. Two days later, I did it again, already hooked.
Looking back, that dreamlike first mile seems a fitting beginning to the fantastical thirty-eight year running adventure that followed. The highlights are too many to name, but here’s a few: leading a team to two state cross country championship titles in high school, running with giraffes in Kenya, completing eight marathons in eight weeks in eight different states, training with a team of professional runners for thirteen weeks, winning races at every distance from 5K to 50K, matching strides with a number of my running heroes, including Kara Goucher and Haile Gebrselassie—to say nothing of the inner journey I experienced as I chased my limits on the roads, trails, and track.
The final highlight came in February 2020, when I finished fifteenth overall in the Atlanta Marathon at age forty-nine. Five days later, I was sick with COVD-19, which became long covid, which ended my running career. The sport that gave me some of the best moments of my life is now literally toxic to my body. Sure, I could go outside right now and grind out a mile or two, but if I did I’d spend the next month in bed, suffering indescribably.
So, that’s kind of a bummer. But overall I’m okay with being a former runner. I got to experience more than I ever imagined I would in those thirty-eight years. And running remains a vital part of my life. I often tell the runners I coach, “You are my legs,” and I mean it. Helping others experience peak moments in running rewards me now as much as living out my own athletic dreams and fantasies once did. So much so that I recently sold the house my wife and I had owned for seventeen years and moved across state lines to devote myself full-time to serving my fellow runners.
Technically, I suppose, Dream Run Camp is a business. But there are far better ways to make money, I assure you. For me it’s more of a mission. Every detail of the Dream Run Camp experience—from its trailside forest location to the Mind-Body Recovery Lounge to the coach-in-residence (me) to the affiliation with NAZ Elite (the very same pro team I trained with for thirteen weeks)—has been carefully crafted to allow passionate runners like you to feel as alive and happy as I did while running alongside my dad through the streets of Boston on Patriot’s Day 1983. I had my turn. It’s your turn now.