New York Bridge Runners & the Story of Reggie
One of the first things I packed for my recent trip to New York was my running gear. There was no way I was gonna let five days go by without a good run. When I lived in New York, I was eating a whole hell of a lot and the couch was my best friend – so I was looking forward to running its streets and seeing them in a new light. I was lucky enough to hook up with a cool crew called Bridge Runners (kind of like a New York version of Run Dem Crew) – a cool collective of creative, like-minded runner peeps and they took me on one hell of a run.
On my birthday, we ran from the Bridge Runners base on The Bowery, over the Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn and back over the Manhattan Bridge into the City. Running those iconic bridges at night, seeing the city lights, feeling the freedom and freshness of the air was a truly awesome experience. Having bikers cheer us on as they zoomed past us, feeling the ache in my legs going up the seemingly endless ramp going over the ‘Willy B’ bridge – there was pretty much no moment of the run I didn’t love. What a way to turn 30! But it was made all the more memorable by Reggie.
Reggie stood out to me as everyone started arriving at Bridge Runners HQ. He was a big guy, didn’t ‘look’ like a runner, was wearing all the wrong gear, had trainers that looked like they wouldn’t give him the right support – but as I know all too well, everyone’s gotta start somewhere. He came and introduced himself to me and was open, warm and welcoming.
Then we started to run. Reggie took off and was ahead with the leading pack. I stayed behind for the first leg of the run and watched as this big guy seemed to love the run more with each step. There were moments he seemed so excited he almost galloped. Every now and then, he would punch the air – a symbol to no one but himself that he was doing well.
The more I watched Reggie, the more I realised he was on a journey. I don’t know him or what’s going on in his personal life, but for these six miles on this one night, he was battling it and winning. The more I watched him, the more proud I felt to be witness to this, to be sharing this part of his journey with him.
See, I know how Reggie feels. I’ve been him. He’s going through a change and over the past 9 months that I’ve been running, I’ve been through that very same change myself. So when he punched the air, I knew exactly why. There are times when I’m having a good run that I’m just so high off the energy, I want to skip or cartwheel – I’m just so happy that my body is allowing me to do this, to run, to feel this way – jumping, punching the air, cartwheeling or skipping just seem like a good way to pay thanks.
The Bridge Runners have a choice of two routes – a long one and a short one. The short route just does the one bridge, the long one does two. This night, for the first time, Reggie took the long route. He fell behind us on the second part of the run, the longer distance obviously testing his limits, but he didn’t stop – and I know he wouldn’t have, because part of the journey is not allowing that voice in your head that’s telling you to stop to take over. When we got to the end of the route, everyone forms an arch with their arms for the people finishing to run through. I felt great running through it, but to see Reggie run through it, yelling ‘Heck yeah! TWO bridges!’, to see the look of pride on his face – that moment made a memorable night for me all the more memorable.
So Reggie, I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, but thank you for inspiring me that night. You reminded me to never lose that feeling, to keep pushing, to punch the air and run with a smile. Thank you. You are awesome.