The other day I was passing a landmark I pass everyday. The vast Mountain View Cemetery here in our thriving metropolis of Longmont, Colorado. It sits right on Main Street in the middle of town.
I’ve never paid much attention to this place. I don’t know anyone buried there, have never been to a funeral there, and just assumed it was your run of the mill graveyard. The most we’ve done is hold our breath while driving by (remember: it’s not polite to breathe while others can’t, or something like that).
On this particular day I peeked in while driving by and saw a group of runners making their way through the cemetery. I recognized some as being from the high school where my son goes. I asked him about it later and he told me the cross country team often runs through the cemetery. What? Are you really allowed to do that? Won’t someone roll over in their grave and trip you?
I don’t see anything about NO Running
I got curious, so the next day I went there. Not to run, just to check it out. Turns out you can drive through the cemetery along these nice roads and there are wide dirt paths that go throughout the grounds. It’s like this little historical oasis.
Peaceful. Serene. Quiet. Spiritual.
Coincidently (or maybe not so much?) my friend Clair called me while I was scoping out the ‘tery (that’s what the cool people call it). She unfortunately has lost both of her parents. I asked if she would be offended if someone ran through the cemetery where her parents were buried. “No way. It is an amazing place to run.”
I have to admit, it’s the perfect place to run. Few cars, well manicured, safe.
Yet, there was still something nagging me. Is it disrespectful to run here? It’s not like I’m going to be doing fartleks from grave to grave or squatting on headstones, but I would be running on the paths that surround the graves. And, I would be there for purposes of running, not visiting a grave or specifically respecting the dead (although I would be doing that in my head, I suppose).
I put myself in the other’s shoes. If I had a loved one buried in a cemetery and some runners often came to run there, would I be pissed? Would I find it disrespectful? No. As long as they stayed on the paths/roads. But, then again, I am a runner. You could have probably sprinted around the labor and delivery room while I was giving birth and I wouldn’t have cared.
Ever heard of Ed Whitlock? He is a Canadian long distance runner and the first person EVER to be older than 70 and to run a sub 3 hour marathon (he ran a 2:54 at the age of 73). He does all of his training two blocks from his house in Toronto at a local cemetery. No joke. Maybe running in cemeteries is actually the key to becoming faster.
I’ve given this quite a bit of thought. Here are my running cemetery rules:
- If there is a funeral going on, stay away
- Don’t run there if there is a sign saying “no running”
- Use this chance to be happy you are alive
- Be quiet
- Don’t listen to music. Just listen
- Do not vandalize (not something I do anyway. Not going to start)
- No snot rockets or pit stops
- Silently pay respects
In case you were wondering, I’ll probably be cremated and spread on a favorite trail/mountain somewhere. Feel free to run there.
Have you run in a cemetery? Do you think it is disrespectful?