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The Shared Pain of Four Runners

Author Devin Kelly developed a close bond with his three friends in college. Sprinting through the cold trails of Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, they logged at least 10 thousand miles together. Kelly eloquently describes the closeness that grew between them:

If you run enough with someone, you learn to hear them in a different way. You can conjure up their stride in your sleep. You can feel them without speaking. Their anxiety, their discomfort, their will, their struggle. Run with someone long enough and the intimacy that builds will allow you to pull out of them the fine line of their suffering and carry them along with you the same way they carry you along with them.

Some people spend their whole lives trying to figure out if their friends are really their friends. When you run with someone long enough, you know what it’s like to share in their suffering, (if only) physical, (if only) for a moment. It transcends language. It is like sharing a singular, collective, beating heart. When one person’s pulse quickens, the rest do too.

A decade after college, Kelly got a text that Nancy, his “second-mom,” was about to die. His running friends, Nick, Ben, and Julian, happened to arrive at the hospital before Kelly. They were waiting at her bedside when Kelly walked in. He said, “I witnessed the way grief can carve away at men. ... The boys took me and led me to the oncology ward’s waiting room, I felt something. What was it? It was something larger. Something like grace. How quickly they adapted toward care, leaning gently into it.”

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