Monday, May 2, 2011

James Joyce and Feats of Athletic Prowess

I always thought of Joyce as more of a sedentary creature.  You know what I mean?  I picture him drinking, smoking, and writing...perhaps sleeping when he must.  Still, this doesn't seem to faze the folks at the "James Joyce Ramble" in Dedham, MA.  Apparently it all somehow makes sense to honor Joyce while hosting a 6.2 mile race to raise money for Dana-Farber and Amnesty International.  This year my wife was running.  So I went and took pictures.

The mixed themes were embodied by the participants in the final product.  The race--which is certified as a qualifying race by some officiating body--was dominated by a group of truly fast people.  After them came the normally fast folks out for a good healthy competition.  Then there were walkers, going from station to station while enactors (the fourth group) read selections from Joyce's most important works.  Everyone had a good time, I think.  The distribution of folks, however, was still interesting.  One of the readers used sports metaphors to describe the reader-culture.  The "rookies," for example, are always stuck with Finnegan's Wake to see if they have enough stuff for the next year. 

It was this particular work that inspired the original founding of the race.  Back in the eighties, someone thought that since reading Joyce is such a workout, it went well with running.  Yeah...really.  That is the official explanation.  The race's mission statement reads, "Running is an expression of freedom and poetry, both of which embrace the deepest values of life.  The Ramble embraces these values as an expression of charity, a plea for human rights and a celebration of art."

While waiting for our wife and mother to run by, the kid's and I listened to this woman... from Finnegan's Wake and this man... from Dubliners in front of this house...

...which has serious structural issues but is the oldest house in Dedham and the ancestral home of some Vice-President.  Then she ran by...

...(clearly the happiest runner in the picture) and then we went home.

Astute readers will recall that yesterday was a Sunday.  I am back on sabbatical for one more month.  One of the great things about sabbatical is that we get to do things we cannot normally do.  My wife likes to run races.  Since so many races are on Sundays (a good day for non-clergy families), usually her options are limited by my need to be in church.  It was fun to be able to do this. 

Perhaps today I will go and make a Joyce purchase.  I loved Dubliners but--sadly--that is where my reading ends.

Incidentally her time was excellent.  Boasting is OK...right?

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