Damon Douglas: In Memoriam
Tribute to a Friend
Damon Douglas took part in nearly all of the Escarpment Trail Runs, and was a friend of race director Dick Vincent for many years. In 2003, at the age of 69, "with bad knees but a great attitude," he finished once again. To our great loss, in the autumn of 2003, he was killed after being hit by a car.
In Damon's honor, and with the permission of his wife Margaret, we share an excerpt from a letter he wrote to a friend about why he loved running in the mountains.
"... For me, the exertion and commitment demanded by mountain running strengthens my bonds with the mountains in ways which walking never could. When I first began to experience mountain running, I would feel embarrassment when I found myself talking to squirrels, chipmunks, and birds (crows are particularly attentive). But now that time has passed and I now also talk with trees and rocks, I feel more comfortable with mountains' communications.
"I really wasn't surprised when I rejoined Marshall in Scotland for the Karrimore International Mountain Marathon, that unbeknownst to each other, we had both been studying Gaelic in order to be able to pronounce and understand the meaning of the names of the mountains we would be running. Somehow, we both felt the need to communicate with these new friends in the language of our Celtic forebearers who had settled these mountains two millennia ago. For my part, on long mountain runs, I seem to derive sustenance and support from the mountains and from the generations who shed their sweat before me. The old apple orchards on the high slopes of many of the Catskills never fail to give me a lift. What efforts went into clearing the land, hacking out access wagon tracks and carting harvest down the slopes?
"The mountains share that energy investment with me when I call for it.....
"What is it like when a day of running ends and I come down out of the mountains? Though my thighs are not always able to lift the foot high enough to avoid stubbing that right big toe, I am strong. With my limbs caked with mud and my clothes soaked with sweat, I am clean. Though fatigue pulses through every nerve, I am well rested. With my skin torn from brambles and from poking Balsam fir, I am whole. And as to living longer? My birth certificate shows that I've been around for 46 years, but the mountains and I are eternal. We will visit together as often as I can manage. And one peaceful day, I will return home forever."
Entry in the Escarpment Trail Run, held every July near Palenville, New York, requires certain qualifications. To learn more, visit the Escarpment Trail Run home page.
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