I had heard him coming before I saw him. Huffing and puffing, rhythmically out of breath and out of sight, but nearing me as he ran to the top of the ridge. It was hard to tell what kind of runner he was, as his breathing provided no clue. The trail was so steep that his slow speed presented his silhouette like a rapid sunrise against the ridge line. First his head, ear buds included, then his shirtless, Bruce Lee looking upper body, giving way to his lower body.
Today was the first day where temperatures hit 70 degrees, so I was fully expecting to see him in shorts, but no. This mountain man was running in full length Carhartt trousers, and he was moving.
I gestured "peace", he gestured "hang loose", and we were both off in opposite directions. As I finished my loop, so to was Mark, as we passed one another again - "peace, hang loose".
Seeing Mark in his Carhartt's got me thinking how sometimes we get so caught up in "being a runner" and that camouflages what pure running is all about. Here was a guy out killing it, running and training for the pure sake of doing what he needed to do. It reminds me of Silvino, one of the Tarahumara runners we ran with in the Copper Canyon. Silvino marched to his own drum, always in back, wearing his jeans while all the other indians were in their native loin cloth skirts.
Who is Mark? Mark is a mountaineer. Mountaineers are some of the best runners you have never heard of. In fact, back in 2012, super stud, Killian Jornet came to Jackson to run the Grand Teton, breaking the Fastest Known Time record. One week later, a local climbing guide laced them up and broke Killian's record.
Mark, I am sure will be back at it tomorrow, doing loops and ascents all over the Snow King trails in prep for his next adventure. And maybe one day I might just see him in shorts, but then again, maybe I should try Carhartts.