Why Community Matters: A Runner’s Perspective


by Rebekah Meyer

There is so much that I love about FHR. Gathering around the hydrant outside Stonybrook, and seeing faces both old and new, can be enough to turn a day around. All of a sudden you are surrounded by people who share your giddiness at the beauty of a sunset, and who will wait when you want to stop and say hello to a puppy.

What is my best effort? Many days, it’s JUST SHOWING UP. The rest comes easily, because when you’re with friends to run, it’s easier to run fast. I like to think of it as preparing myself for when things get hard. If you practice your best effort when things are easy, then giving your best will be your default when things get hard.

Why can’t I do this on my own? Because we need to work together to strengthen both our bodies and our community. We spend our days at work differently, and this diversity enriches the discussions we have as we run. And it’s more than running that we share—it’s potlucks and roadtrips and book groups.

Last weekend, more than a dozen people came together to enjoy brunch and discuss a biography of Frederick Law Olmsted, whom we can thank for designing our beloved Emerald Necklace. Besides the delicious food, which is always a wonderful part of FHR gatherings, the discussion was a great chance to learn more about the parks that we run through every day. We shape these places anew each time that we run through them. Part of the joy of the parks is seeing so many other people outside for a stroll or a run. Learning about the vision behind the parks enriches the experience of running there. Of course, the bookgroup was further enhanced by the delightful company of the kitten Franklin Hills.

FHR: All pets and paces welcome.

This fall, I ran my first cross-country races, first two races in Franklin Park, and then the USATF Cross Country Nationals in Bethlehem, PA. To compete for my team at a national championship was an enormous honor, made even better by the fact that there was no qualifying time—any and every runner was welcome.

USATF Race in Franklin Park!

A friend from FHR has described us as the “neighborhood play group.” If I happen to arrive early at Stony Brook, one of my favorite things is to look around and see runners coming from all directions—up the bike path, across the field, through the playground—all converging with the excitement and anticipation of a great run. We’ve literally run into races, and raced on a whim…

I have both discovered my community and found a second childhood through FHR. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to build community through running, and hope to see many new faces at future runs!

We don’t always win trophies, but when we do, we try to win all of them.

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