Running in Cemeteries

I don’t like cemeteries.

This isn’t because I am creeped out by cemeteries and get the heebie-jeebies when I go into them. And I guess, upon further reflection, I don’t actually dislike them, either. They are interesting in that they provide a wonderful and rich source of history, especially from a time when there is little other record of what happened in a certain era. They are not really wastes of valuable real estate either (until they are full) considering how much a plot of land goes for these days. I guess I am just against future cemeteries being built. Or maybe I just have zero desire to be buried and hope that my body can be used to help others once I no longer need it.

But, man, do I love running in cemeteries.

When I plan on going for a run in a cemetery, I do, however, wonder if it is disrespectful to those who are buried there for me to be running on the roads that circumvent their final resting places. Like, am I flaunting my whole being-alive-ness? But if it was good enough for Ed Whitlock (R.I.P.) , it is good enough for me. Ed Who, you may ask? Ed Whitlock was probably the greatest age group runner ever (or at least in the discussion.) At age 73, a few years back, he ran a 2:54 marathon. Not a half-marathon, but a marathon. (N.B., recently Gene Dykes broke that record but unfortunately it is not “official.)

Ed did virtually every single mile of his training at the cemetery two blocks from his home in Toronto. Loops and loops and loops around the cemetery, even avoiding the slightest hill on the backside of the course. But Ed ran amongst the dead more out of convenience than for the reasons why I like running there.

They are quiet. Well-manicured. Orderly. No cars are going to go flying by kicking dust into your face. They are, by nature, serene and usually quite beautiful. In a city setting, cemeteries are about the closest most would ever get to a national park or being able to go for a trail run.

I conducted a poll amongst friends and surprisingly found I was far from the only one who enjoyed the safety and beauty of running in a cemetery. Similarly, they too wondered about the etiquette involved. One stated they were able to feel their activity was fine by simply treating the land as you would anything else that isn’t yours in the first place: with respect. Heck, cemeteries aren’t really for the dead anyway. They are for the living.

So, do as much living as you can. Chances are pretty high that many of the deceased you will be running around were runners themselves at one point. They are probably happy to have you out there enjoying the land and exercising instead of sitting at home. Hopefully they won’t offer any from tips from beyond, though.

I may just discover fast-twitch muscles I never knew existed, if that were to happen.