You’ve heard of ski bums. Maybe you were one. It never ceases to amaze me how many people I meet in Colorado who tell me they originally moved here as a ski bum. This photo captures running bums. I grabbed it from Vanessa Run‘s FB site, hope she doesn’t mind. Vanessa refers to such runners as dirtbag runners. She actually co-hosts a site for dirtbag runners, so I’m not making this up. Their Instagram site has some awesome running photos. Vanessa is a classic running bum herself. She lives out of an RV, runs trail races all over the continent, and writes the occasional running book like The Summit Seeker or Daughter’s of Distance. She’s wearing the sunglasses.
I started thinking of running bums when my Austin running buddy Ken used the term to describe Jon as he caught me up-to-date on some guys we both used to run with back in the day. Jon was one of my college cross country coaches at Texas State. One of those coaches who runs with his charges. He was only a few years older than the rest of us. He was such a running bum. He ate grass-fed smoothies decades before they were in vogue. I never, ever saw him wear anything other than running sweats. To his credit, they were fashionable and not some Chariots of Fire gray cotton sweats. To our dismay, he never washed them. Jon smelled so bad, the entire team would have tears in our eyes when trapped in a van with him. We drove once together from Central Texas all the way to Kansas. Brutal.
Still, Jon was such a pleasant person. He could talk about anything. I imagine he still can. He became a letter carrier in Austin. Ken brought him up to let me know Jon recently received a hip replacement and can no longer run. Nightmare scenario for me. I can’t imagine the impact on Jon. He was such a running bum. I don’t know that he ever won any of the big races but he was an elite athlete. Running with him was an honor. Bummer.
I wouldn’t mind becoming a running bum. Not now, too many bills and commitments. But in retirement. I’ve been working on Karen to warm her up to the idea of moving to somewhere like Buena Vista. That would put the Colorado Trail and the Collegiates at my doorstep. Some of the finest trail running to be found anywhere in the world. I could retire there. Karen points out the tough winters and lack of nearby medical facilities at a time in our lives we might visit doctors more regularly. I don’t know. Fairly certain old people live there. Old running bums.