The Man on the A.T.

Mike Gallen

A lot of people run to relieve stress, anxiety & depression. Sadly, my brother Mark and Ultrarunner Jimmy couldn’t outrun those invisible demons. Before I get started, if anyone is having thoughts of taking their life for any reason please, that’s Please! call someone you can talk to.

Jimmy was very well known in the Ultrarunner community. Jimmy was “Always”--that’s always happy-go-lucky, always friendly, always smiling and always had kind words for all, just like my brother Mark. But obviously that was on the surface or they made it appear that way to others. Both men had good jobs and good families. They were practically the same age 55-56 years young. I guess one could call it a midlife crisis. We all deal with troubles in our own way.

I cannot tell you when or where I had my first acquaintance with Jimmy, but if I had to guess it was probably at Mike’s Cabin (Worlds End State Park) at least 24 years ago. There’s still a gang of Ultrarunners that camp at Worlds End each August to run the Loyalsock (LT) Trail. This is an annual event & a fantastic time trail running, which Jimmy loved to do, just like the rest of us. Telling war stories about our accomplishments and trail failures. Talking about current & prior injuries, sprains, burn-hazel (stinging nettles), PF, proper etiquette of shitting in the woods and the like. Worlds End was & still is a go-to destination. 24-25 years ago there were only a few ultra runs, so Mike’s cabin was a great place to gather, run, drink beer, eat meat & shoot the shit in that order.

Just several weeks ago the Reading Pacers had a small group run from Rt 183 on the Appalachian Trail west to Showers Steps (Rt 501) and back. But this particular day myself and a good ultrarunner friend of mine Ken decided to continue onto Rt 501 on the A.T. while the other group returned to Rt 183. So glad Ken & I continued on, for less than several miles into our remaining run, lo and behold who was running the opposite direction (towards us)? This skinny, tall, grayed haired, shirtless individual, Jimmy. Over the years I have helped and assisted at many ultra aid stations & whenever I saw Jimmy I would always yell “Jimmy’s in the house!” Seeing my young friend Jimmy on the trail that morning made my day. My traditional greeting was the last time I saw my friend on the trail. Jimmy loved the A.T., like the rest of us. Jimmy will be missed by all. A wonderful, kind, considerate man and a damn good Ultrarunner. He will be missed.

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