Injury forces a new perspective on this old ‘Goat’ runner

Mountain Goat Syracuse 10 mile

Participants in the 10-mile Mountain Goat run in Syracuse are happy to have reached the crest of a brutal hill at the 6-mile mark. Elite runner and coach Kevin Collins, far left, encourages some of his YMCA runners.

A bum heel and a bout of food poisoning put me on the shelf for one of my favorite running events, today’s Mountain Goat 10-miler in Syracuse, NY.

After moping about this for a couple of weeks, I decided to suck it up and get out there on the course to cheer on my friends and other participants in this challenging, hilly race that attracts more than 2,400 participants.

I positioned myself at the top of the toughest hill on the course, a long, steady climb at the 6-mile mark. Cowbell in one hand, camera in the other, I offered as many encouraging words as I could while trying to find familiar faces among the runners struggling up the hill.

The older this once-competitive runner gets, the more I realize and appreciate just how much I have benefited from race volunteers and spectators alike. I tried not to take them for granted all the years I was running seriously, but I’m afraid I did. It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve volunteered at races as often as I enter.

This kind of payback feels good indeed.

As much as I wish I were out there wearing a number today, I was quite content to be on the sidelines. The weather was more conducive to running than standing around — 40s and windy — but each time a runner thanked me or smiled at some of my supportive commentary, it felt damn good.

And when I spotted my friends, or they spotted me (a couple of them handed me a pair of gloves and a sweatshirt for safekeeping) the chill in the air didn’t feel quite so bad.

I’ve run “the Goat” probably 15 or 20 times in its 36-year history, and I know all too well how much it hurts to charge up the hill where I stood. If there’s a spot on that course where runners need encouraging, that’s it. That’s especially true for the slower or newer runners, for whom the hill can force them to a walk.

I was hardly alone on the sidelines. A few fellow runners chose the same spot to cheer on their friends, and a coach of some YMCA runners waited there for her team members, exhorting them to keep on keepin’ on.

The highlight may indeed have been the sight of three young women cresting the hill, hand in hand and all smiles. The photo of them below is what running is all about. See you next year, Mountain Goat.

What's the best way to get to the top of this brutal hill on the Mountain Goat? Find someone to do it with you.

What’s the best way to get to the top of this brutal hill on the Mountain Goat? Find someone to do it with you.



About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
This entry was posted in Irish Investigations, photography, running, Volunteering and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Injury forces a new perspective on this old ‘Goat’ runner

  1. bendiful says:

    Awww I’m sad I missed you! But thank you for cheering us on! On a day like today you have no idea what it means to see people out there cheering!


  2. Sorry you had to monitor the sidelines, but it looks like it was a good place to be.


  3. Mary Kane says:

    Love this post Jimmy. Hope to be hurting up a Goat Hill next year as well!


  4. markbialczak says:

    Sorry you had to miss the pain, but glad you got the experience the pleasure. Goat volunteer seems to suit you when the hurt and illness sneaks up on you, my friend. My daughter did the Baby Goat 3K. Yesterday she ran an off-road race in Mad County. Yes, I said my daughter, the offspring of the man who will not run but will walk 10 miles. We must do lunch soon, Jim.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jim McKeever says:

    Elisabeth has the bug! Careful, it’s catchy … yes, lunch next week?


  6. I had a wonderful time as a “Goat Herder” this past weekend, serving up water to those dedicated runners. Better them with those hills than me… however, there has been great consideration on my part to run next year. Haha.

    Stef (in blue), who is part of the YMCA crew, is a fellow improviser. She made it a point to stop, give me an intimidating glare as she drank a cup of water. She has too great of a sense of humor.

    Hope your foot recovers quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jim McKeever says:

    Thanks, Chris … wear that yellow “Goat Herder” shirt with pride!


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