PRUMC’s Oliver Brett

PRUMC’s Oliver Brett Completes the Georgia Jewel

& Shares How Running Informs & Inspires Life

When I am not working at PRUMC or engaging in some kind of musical activity, I spend a large amount of my time training for and running long distance races.  To date, I have completed nearly ten road marathons and over 5 ultramarathons – an ultramarathon is any distance longer than the marathon distance of 26.2 miles.  Last Saturday I competed in the Georgia Jewel 50 mile race near Dalton GA.  This was a trail race up and down the mountains in that area and included a total of over 8000ft of elevation gain.  I finished in the top third of runners in a time of 12 hours and 18 minutes, burning over 6000 calories in the process!

While running is essentially a solo sport, the reality is the opposite.  I relied on various friends to cheer me on, run with me, help with my nutrition, not to mention keep me company on all my training runs in the last 5 months (over 1000 miles’ worth).  I am connected to various running groups across the city and find that it is a great way to meet new people – people from all walks of life.  I find that runners pretty much always seem to be great people – I think in order to have the motivation and drive to do something like a long distance race, you have to be a positive person.  I have had several conversations about church and God with various people I’ve met too and have enjoyed talking to them about PRUMC, sharing videos of sermons with each other, as well as inviting them and being invited to attend each other’s churches.

Running for me is also a spiritual activity.  It is a form of therapy.  Running through the trails of North Georgia allows you to escape the modern world with all its problems and allows you to reconnect with God and to the stunning beauty of His creation.  It makes you realize how perfect God’s creation really is and how blessed we really are, even in the midst of a pandemic.  Running is also a mental sport – running mile after mile when you are tired requires mental strength.  It requires a self-belief that you are capable of achieving your goal and a determination to keep going.  Once you learn to deal with the “pain” the mind enters a zen-like state and you learn to block out negatives and fatigue as best you can.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that ultrarunning has several parallels with life itself.  During such a long race, there are inevitably going to be hard times: times when you doubt that you will get through; times when you don’t want to continue; times where it doesn’t seem worth it; but in the end, the great feeling of achievement and satisfaction of crossing the finish line makes it all worthwhile.  Indeed, just like in life, the greater the moments of doubt and despair, the greater the moment of final fulfillment – that is why I keep coming back for more!

– Oliver Brett, PRUMC Associate Organist & Choirmaster

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