I don't know how often this thought has run through head but so many times I find myself out on the trail and I think, "If Jesus were an athlete he would definitely be an Ultramarathon Runner." Anyone who's spent a significant amount of time running alone knows that a significant amount of random thoughts work their way in an out of you mind during your time on the trail. Personally, when I'm not thinking about the next hill, my thoughts usually go to philosophy, marriage, politics, religion, and soccer. A lot of times the thoughts come in and out before I really get a chance to work them out. My friend and I once spent an entire 15 mile run trying to determine what was the most athletically demanding "sport." We decided it was Water Polo.
But back to the issue at hand; Jesus the Ultrarunner. I guess it started as just another funny thought but honestly I think it has some merit. Obviously it's a silly hypothetical question and probably just an excuse that I'm using to try an add validity to a sport that I've fallen in love with but let's give it a shot huh.
I think the thoughts that pops into my head most often have to do with the beauty of the natural world. I believe that God's created the world and so many times I find myself lost in it's beauty. Be it at the top of a mountain or while crossing a stream, the beauty of creation catches me off guard constantly. Even on days when I'm feeling horrible I find myself incredibly thankful for trees, the trail, rocks, and everything. It just amazes me how all of nature comes together in its own unique and beautiful way. Then when I think about the Son of God cruising the trail, probably barefoot, It just sounds right to me. Why spend your time on football field when you could spend time in the heart of your fathers created beauty.
But there are many sports that have an athlete out in nature for the majority of the time; hunting, fishing, hiking, disc golf just to name a few. Yet these sports, depending on your definition of sport, have barely scraped the surface of what the human body is capable of achieving physically. Robert Harrison, host of the Entitle Opinions podcast out of Stanford, in his show on the human body spoke of the incredible knowledge contained within the human body. Harrison says something like "while human knowledge has been around for only about 6,000 years while the human body has knowledge accumulated over millions of years." Just imagine about that for a second. The human body, like many other forms of carbon based life, has within in it an unimaginable amount of information within in. The human body's ability to feed, heal, and sustain itself is incomprehensible. Human beings don't think much about embodiment and consciousness. I think this is a sad fact. The human body is one of the most incredible gifts God has given us.
When you analyze the human body you find so many physical traits that make it uniquely capable of enduring incredible athletic feats. What you find the it specifically built to excel at seems to be running long distance. Remember what was said earlier about the beauty of the natural world? What better way to appreciate the natural world than to explore it using the energy you can find within yourself. Training for Ultramarathons is a wonderful thing. You get to see first hand what you can bring out of yourself. I think that if Jesus wanted to explore's his father's created world he could find now better way to do it than to do so under the power he's created by conditioning his body to be able to cover those large chunks of land.
So now you have Jesus out on the trail, exploring the wonders of creation, and pushing the his limits. This sounds great in and of itself but there's an element of ultrarunning that we haven't considered yet; the effect of spending that much time alone your thoughts. I've heard it said that you don't really know yourself till you've run a 100 miler. I don't know it that's true but I can tell you that the one thing that I know to be true about training alone on trails is that you can't hide from yourself. I've found that time alone and times with friends running have been incredibly eye-opening. When your running with another person for a few hours you have a heightened sense of what they're saying and how to respond. I'm not sure why that is exactly but I think that it's probably the lack of distraction that aids in the conversation. Running alone produces the same effect. There have be so many times when I've had scattered ideas floating around in my head and after an hour or so alone with myself and my thoughts on the trail they get brought into focus.
Not only does trail running remove distraction so that you can think clearer but it also forces you to pay attention to yourself. On the trail you cannot hide from your thoughts. You're force to confront what's bothering you head on. Whether you're struggling with an existential meltdown, a metaphysical catastrophe, or maybe you just don't like you coworkers and don't know how to deal with them, you can't hide from these issues. There are no distractions,. No Tv, no bills to pay, no internet. It's just you and what's on your mind. When I think about Jesus being the Son of God I can't imagine him missing out on this opportunity to search himself in this fashion. I don't think this kind of self-reflection is something you find in other sports.
I think I could go on for a long time praising Ultrarunning for all it's virtues but simply put I think it speaks for itself. What sports better allows a human being to explore the wonders of nature, the limits of the human body, and depth of self-reflection better than Ultrarunning? I don't think you can find one. Therefore I'm left to think that if Jesus were an athlete he'd probably be an Ultrarunner.