For some time now, I’ve been highlighting some of the randomly annoying things about running. But, clearly running isn’t all about annoyances – or else I wouldn’t keep doing it. So it’s time to show some positivity and celebrate some things I love about running. Now, this isn’t about things like the thrill of setting a new PB or the satisfaction of finishing a long race. No, this is a celebration of some of the more random things there are to love about running…
Race starts can be noisy places. As people huddle up before the start, there’s usually a fair amount of nervous pre-race chatter, often announcements from the race organisers, and maybe some cheering from friends, family and spectators. It all builds up in the moments before the start. And, when the gun goes… it very quickly all goes quiet. Except for the footsteps. So many footsteps.
Individually, running doesn’t make that distinctive a noise. What is the sound of running shoes bouncing into pavements? Tough to describe. It’s sort of a squelch. Or a squish. Squelch, squelch. Squish, squish. Sound about right?
So it’s not a notable, glamorous sound. But when you multiply it by a few hundred, or a few thousand, or even tens of thousands of runners? Then it becomes a glorious cacophony. A collective squelch and squish of shared sporting endeavour. And it’s a collective noise you’ll only truly hear if you’re in the middle of that pack.
There’s a sweet spot to the squishy sound of made by the footsteps of a pack of runners. It varies every time, but it’s always early in a race. It comes once you’ve left the noise and distractions of the start, and just before the pack starts to break up and spread out. When the runners are fresh, and their strides are confident. The chatter and cheers of the start area fade out, and as the runners settle in, everything goes quiet, calm and peaceful. Well, everything except the sound of all those running shoes hitting the ground.
Squelch, squelch. Squish, squish.
Okay, perhaps it’s odd to say I love any sound that’s best described with terms such as ‘squish’ and ‘squelch’. But it’s hard not to. Perhaps it’s all about what it represents. It’s the sound of communal effort, the noise of hundreds – or thousands – or people setting off on a new athletic adventure. What’s not to love?