I love running because it is the world’s simplest sport to take up, yet can never be mastered.
I love running because people of all ages, from the single digits to the nineties, can do it.
I love running because it is the world’s only sport where pure weekend amateurs share the stage with the sport’s greatest legends, on the same course in the same event at the same time.
I love running because it is possible, at least theoretically, that an unknown amateur could win a world-class race.
I love running because, wherever you travel, as long as you pack a pair of sneakers and a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, you can get a great workout and gain views of the city you are visiting that few tourists ever will.
I love running because it calms you and makes you feel better when you are unhappy, and feels like a natural way to celebrate when you are happy. Essentially, it does the same things that people turn to alcohol for, except it is healthy and makes your mind sharper instead of dulling it.
I love running because, no matter what trail you are on in what state or country, you are instantly bonded with all other runners on the trail in the simple gesture of the runner’s wave.
I love running for a similar reason to why I love all sports: because sports are one place in our world where the playing field and the outcome are almost always fair. Running takes this fairness to a unique level of simplicity, as the only way you judge success or failure is by your own race against the clock.
I love running because a race can have tens of thousands of participants with tens of thousands of unique stories, and it is possible for most of those runners to consider themselves winners at the end of the race, and rightly so.
I love running because the primary goal of most of those tens of thousands of runners is not to defeat the other runners, but rather to push themselves to be the best they possibly can.
I love running because many of the friends I like and respect the most are runners, and because 90% of the runners I have ever met are people I truly like and respect.
I love running because marathons bring out the best in the residents of a city. It’s often said that if you feel despondent about the condition of the human race, you should go out and watch a marathon. This is true, and you should. There may be many things which divide us, but I defy you to watch a marathon and come away thinking the human race is not salvageable.
I love running because a cheeseburger a few hours after a well-run race will taste like the greatest cheeseburger you have ever eaten, even if it’s not.
I love running because the sleep you get after running a hard race will be some of the soundest sleep you’ve had in recent memory.
I love running because I love the rewarding soreness that turns descending a flight of stairs into a Herculean task in the first 24 hours after a marathon.
I love running because this is our bleepin’ city.
I love running because, while many people say they could never do it, most of them actually could if they really wanted to.
I love running because as long as there is a next race, there is a next goal to achieve and a reason to keep pushing.
I love running because, nine years ago, the goal of having a marathon on the horizon helped motivate me to defeat cancer and, after hitting the reset button on my body, working myself into better shape than I had ever previously been.
I love running because it has inspired millions upon millions of dollars to be donated to worthy charitable causes, including the fight against cancer.
I love running because the anticipation of the starting line and all its possibilities is like few other feelings.
I love running because the triumphant relief of the finish line is also like few other feelings.
I love running because Dick and Rick Hoyt.
I love running because Juma Ikangaa.
I love running because one time I got Bib #26 in a marathon, and drew a little “.2” next to it with a Sharpie on my bib because you can’t forget the last .2. This really happened.
I love running because I hope, one day, to luck into Bib #24601 and claim it entitles me to steal a loaf of bread from a convenience store along the course.
I love running because it pushes me to be better.
I love running because there can always be another race to try and be better officially.
I love running because I can run, and as long as I can run I will.
Next weekend, I will run the Chicago Marathon. It will be my fifth Chicago Marathon and my 13th marathon overall, all of them post-cancer treatment. I cannot say exactly how the day will shake out, save for one thing: I will love it.