April Fool’s Day Run

The skies were a bit cloudy to the west as I started my five mile trail run, but I wasn’t worried. The run wouldn’t take too long, so it was doubtful that a serious storm could move in that quickly. I run in any conditions – heat, cold, wind, rain or snow – except one – I don’t run when there’s lightning. I’m no April Fool!

I was about ten minutes into the run when strong breezes really started whipping through the trees. Sustained winds of at least 30 mph with stronger gusts came out of nowhere. I looked up to see fast-moving clouds streaking across the sky. Small dead branches were breaking off of oak trees. Soon I took a turn and was about halfway through the loop, so there was no turning back. Next, my greatest fear, lightning, crackled through the air. A loud thunderclap signaled a lightning strike not that far ahead of me, though no rain was falling.

A minute later I saw smoke a few hundred yards in front of me and realized the lightning had ignited some dry underbrush. By the time I reached that part of the trail, there was thick black smoke billowing above orange flames. I barely was able to make it through the single track path that was rapidly becoming a raging inferno. As I left the fire behind the rains came with ever-increasing winds. My eyes squinted as I didn’t want to lose my contact lenses.

Tree branches creaked and threatened me as I quickened my pace and just hoped to finish the run in one piece. Suddenly I heard a loud noise and saw a large tree falling toward me. I barely got past as it smashed to the ground behind me. Shaken, but unhurt, I continued on as the winds and rain had now become a monsoon. The creek I had to cross had swollen to a small river. The logs I usually walk across were completely submerged, so I waded through the knee-deep water and continued running in water-logged shoes.

Several times I had to climb over or walk around more downed trees as this had really turned into an amazingly fierce storm. Lightning strikes continued as this rain-soaked runner just prayed to make it to the end of the run. What more could happen? Guess? I hit a root and tripped badly, sprawling to the ground. My right knee hurt and blood ran from gashes on my left shin and right hand. Mud was all over me, but I only had a half mile left. I ran awkwardly due to the pain and somehow made it to the trailhead and back to my car. All I could think about was getting in my car, driving home, taking a warm shower and lying down.

“Oh no,” I shouted loudly as I saw my car keys on the front seat of my locked vehicle. Could anything else possibly go wrong? Can you believe all of this misfortune happened in one day? Well, don’t – April Fool!!!

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About garyscohen

Gary Cohen is an enthusiast for the sport of running including magazine/essay writing, blogging, interviews, coaching, public speaking, leading trail runs in Central Florida and announcing at track meets.
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