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For the past 35 years I have been a runner. To say you are a runner doesn’t require much more than simply doing it somewhat consistently and maybe participating in a road race every now and then. Being a runner doesn’t mean you have to be among the fastest or a member of an elite club. That’s the charm about running: everyone can do it and runners truly embrace anyone who simply tries—even someone like myself who these days toils in the outside lanes and wistfully watches the faster more accomplished (and younger!) runners pass me by.

So, why do I do it and what have I learned? Most runners run for very personal reasons: some are goal-oriented and crave competition, while others see it as a form of redemption or therapy. But all runners will agree that it is largely about being active and finding like-minded souls who wish to celebrate healthy life-styles together. It is an inexpensive sport and accessible no matter where you are. You just need the discipline to tug on those running shoes and get in a good run knowing that the rewards will always be there at the end.

What I have learned is that everyone has a story to share and runners will open their hearts more freely than most simply because, despite the physical exertion, the mind is always active. I do some of my best thinking while running and find I am more likely to share portions of my interior life. I think I enjoy the communal aspects as much as anything else. Long-distance running is a lonely enterprise—it’s best to find good company.

Children are naturally gifted runners. They learn to run early on in life and do it with great joy and often with equal grace. My running life shifted when I was no longer invested in chasing personal records and began to focus on sharing what I had learned with young children. I wanted to sustain their natural ability to run and to find their own reward. It is the proudest and most fulfilling chapter of my running career.

I am so pleased that RA will host its first USTA approved 5K and Fun-Run on Sunday, May 20 at 8:00 AM beginning and ending on our beautiful campus. It has long been a dream of mine to create such an event and it took the efforts of many wonderful colleagues and community members to make this event happen. Please come join us for what promises to be a celebration of my passion for running and the joy I experience being in the good company of runners of all abilities. Please register for this year's RA5K and we will conquer West Mountain together!

James P. Heus, Head of School, Ridgefield Academy