We met in the semi-full parking lot like we had so many times before we ran the Akron Marathon. I pulled into a spot as he was running up to the start of the Sand Run trail. Martini and I have logged hundreds of miles on this compacted limestone pathway. However, during those miles, we could see where we were going.
The weather has been fairly warm this week. I got out of my car, wearing shorts, a long sleeve tech shirt and my vests. Martini cracked on the Reflecto-Vest.
"We're not running on the road," he said.
"This is so you can see me," I replied.
Neither of us have any sort of light, but it was a clear night. The moon and the surrounding city lights provided enough ambient light to see the path. We took it slow, knowing that a steady footfall would be our only savior from rolled ankles. The path is level, but by no means smooth.
Passing cars on the parallel road rendered us blind mice: see how we run into the void. A few tentative steps and our sight would return, seeing more than what was there. Eyes played tricks, imagining other fellow travelers, of which there were a few, but not as many as I saw. Those that were there disappeared faster than what seemed possible. A pair we passed shortly before our turnaround we never passed again, they having stepped off the trail or perhaps evaporated into the night.
The trail's end remained invisible despite knowing that it was approaching. I could see the parking lot to my right where my car waited with two others, but all that was in front of us was dark. It felt as if we would keep running, passing through a black curtain of trees into a new ethereal plane.
Martini and I finished just behind another group of owls. He ran the rest of the way home, and the other runners and I pulled away in our cars together, leaving the parking lot empty.