You Like to Run in Cemeteries?
by Rachel Keller
I glanced at my watch--a little after seven. It hadn't taken me
too long to run the two miles to the back entrance of my favorite
place to run. (Although the front entrance is closer, I prefer entering
the picturesque back entrance. During the warmer months, a crystal
clear water fountain beckons me to enter.) Sometimes I take a longer
round-about route to the park, but today I wanted to spend more time
running in the park.
On this particular autumn morning, I arrived in time to watch the
glowing reddish orange sun creep over the horizon. I had observed
the sky's hue brightening from a pale pink to a brighter, deeper,
and more vibrant orange, and then fade again as the glowing sun emerged.
I watched the magnificent display unfold: the sun's warm rays reflecting
off the brightly colored autumn leaves in a breath-taking view.
Oh the pleasure of these early morning runs in the cool, crisp days
of Autumn--a deeply satisfying experience! The hot humid days of summer
are over, and the brilliant autumn foliage deepens and grows more
beautiful each day. I wished for a camcorder to capture this beautiful
scene, but all I had with me was the pepper spray I always carried.
I focused the only camera I had--my mind--on the wonderful array of
beauty unfolding before me.
Since resuming a regular running routine, I have discovered the fun
of running through cemeteries. I have run in four different ones,
but this burial park is my favorite place to run. It is well maintained
and mourners leave flowers and other special mementos by the gravesides.
In Autumn, the cemetery looked like a harvest festival with its pumpkins
and other fall decorations. Christmas is very festive with wreathes
and various holiday decorations. (One family placed a decorated Christmas
tree by their loved one's grave site.)
I enjoy the park so much that I sometimes take a brief detour through
it when returning from my longer runs. The park's perimeter is over
a mile. Its many paved roads and trails make it easy to spend an hour
running. I can choose to run the relatively flat areas or challenge
myself with an arduous hill-training workout on the very steep hills
in the front section. My reward for conquering the hills is a spectacular
view of the valley below.
Why do I enjoy cemeteries? No annoying dogs chase me. No traffic or
dangerous streets to combat. No suspicious looking strangers worry
me, and nobody stares at me or even cares that I'm running. Occasionally,
I see a lone mourner or two, and once, I rounded a corner to see five
beautiful deer grazing on the hillside. (I've seen the tails of deer
on other early morning runs in the park.)
If I need a break while running, I slow down and observe the markers.
My first few runs through the cemetery, I didn't get much running
done because the markers fascinated me. I still want to stop and read
them. Oh, the stories contained therein! I often wonder about the
countless numbers whose bodies lie buried beneath the damp dark soil.
My mind spins stories as I pass the markers. How many wonderful stories
lie buried here waiting to be unearthed? Sadly, most will never be
As I see a small marker, my soul aches for that young child who so
prematurely left this earth and for the anguish of the loved ones
left behind. My heart beats proud when I see those who valiantly fought
for the freedoms we enjoy, especially those killed in combat. (In
my runs, I have seen gravesides of men who fought in all the wars
from the American Revolutionary War in the eighteenth century to the
Persian Gulf conflict in the twentieth century.)
I don't run in the park everyday, for I do like variety. But those
mornings I head to the cemeteries, the miles quickly pass. As I leave,
I always glance back. The beautiful hillside beckons me to return.
"I'll be back again!" I whisper as I run the final miles
'Rachel Keller - All Rights Reserved. Reprinted
About the author: The mother of three young
sons, Rachel Keller enjoys running, cycling, aerobics, strength training,
and flexibility exercises. She races regularly, placing in her age
group in nearly all her races. She has both a Bachelor of Science
and a Master's degree in education and has been published numerous
times. For more of Rachel's work, please visit her sites Rachel's
Writings and Kozy