North Shore Morning

Saturday morning, shortly after sunrise, I’ll be hanging out with a few other folks along the shore of Lake Superior. About six thousand others. We’ll be gathered near the Lakeview Castle for the start of the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon. I’ve always liked the start of that race. The shore is usually peaceful, the sun low over the lake, the day quiet — well, except when the race official with the bullhorn is barking instructions to us.

One year, I remember walking down to the lakeshore, sitting on a downed tree. The sun was burning through a light fog over the water. The lake was almost flat calm. It was a good place to stretch and gather my thoughts for the race.

Even after the race begins, it’s usually a subdued affair for a while. Runners chat in pairs or small groups. You hear the patter of several hundred running shoes on the pavement. As the long caterpillar of runners elongates on the Scenic Highway, everyone must find his or her pace and settle in for the long haul. Only half as long as the full marathon, of course, but long enough just the same.

Along the way, I always look for orange hawkweed in bloom along the highway. Orange hawkweed is almost always blooming at marathon time. It grows in profusion where it grows, and it’s a cheery little wildflower. Its quarter-size blooms are a bright orange and multi-petaled. They look like pictures of the sun we drew in grade school. The stem and leaves of the hawkweed are fuzzy.

The miles go by, and before you know it, you’ve traded orange hawkweed for shady London Road. Friends cheer. Bands play. The early-morning silence is gone, and now the race is a moving party.

See you there.