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The pandemic is scary. When you live in a densely populated city with 20 daily flights from the epicenter of a pandemic, you expect the worst is coming straight at you. The early days of COVID-19 lockdown in San Francisco were eerie, with boarded-up businesses, no traffic, no noise, nobody in the streets and everybody hunkered down in social isolation. Early reports of infection rates and deaths led to heightened fear of even passing interactions with other people.
Against that backdrop, I went running, and so did a lot of others. California’s mandatory shelter-in-place order boiled down to “except for essential activities, stay inside” and “don’t travel.” Beautifully, running was listed as one of the permitted reasons to leave your home. An essential activity.
More people on the trails were running after the control, sense of stability, connection with nature and health benefits that come from running. For all the challenges of sheltering in place and running in an urban environment, this strange time has given me and others a chance to explore San Francisco’s urban trails and discover surprising bits of wilderness within city limits.
Now with heightened civil unrest, San Francisco has also instituted an 8 p.m. curfew for an indefinite amount of time. For those looking forward to the slow loosening of restrictions for COVID-19, this was a demoralizing blow forcing us back into our homes. Yesterday, I shook off my dismay at the new restriction, laced up my shoes and put in 20 gorgeous miles of trail before the sun went down. For those 20 miles, everything felt OK with the world.