Back in a former life in 2009 BC (before children) I used to cycle into work a few days a week with my husband along the Brighton foreshore. It was a great way to commute and we managed to avoid the disaster that is the Melbourne train system in Summer (extreme heat makes the tracks swell, blah blah, excuses etc).
We would leave the house wearing our strange mixture of Skins and mismatched gym gear at around 7am and wind our way down, through barely wakeful streets, to the bike path snaking alongside my beloved Port Phillip Bay.
We got to know many interesting characters (from afar) as we whirred along the path: the fashion parade of pooches accessorising with their proverbial look-alike owners, the roller bladers (90s much!) power walkers, boot campers, early risers and the odd slightly out-of-place shady figure whose purpose seemed to be to make me pedal faster!
None left so great an impression on me as The Running Guy.
His dress was sporty, but somehow camp and theatrical – something like a 1980s tennis pro raiding the wardrobe from Xanadu: knee-hi cotton socks (with colourful band around the top), the shortest of athletic shorts with white piping detail, a sleeveless muscle top and a sweatband nestled atop a shaggy mop of hair.
It was not really his outfit, however, that was so endearing – although as a clue to his personality I would have to say it indicated a complete lack of self-consciousness which I totally admire.
It was more the way he ran…
We’ve all seen that Mark Twain quote 101 times:
“Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like its heaven on earth.”
Well this darling man certainly runs like nobody’s watching! His form is very “Forest Gump does Jazzercise”. It suggests that he is truly enjoying both the freedom and confines of his slight body as it slices through the air. He is in his bliss, out of touch with reality and totally at one with the universe. It is for this that I so admire him.
I saw my Running Guy the other morning as I drove my husband into the city (on a clandestine Gateaux run). We spotted him as far around the bay as Beaumaris. Another fragment of insight, another clue towards solving the mystery…
And as my husband and I smile at each other in silent acknowledgement of having spotted our “friend”, he will never know that we see him… and silently wish him “Godspeed”.