|South Route: Interview with Kid Valance|
One of the more steady, calming prescences on this walk is Sacred Runner Kid Valance. He has a grace and comfort about him that immediately sets you at ease; and a gentle, Kentucky drawl that makes you feel like your sitting on a warm porch, sipping something cool even when you're in the middle of a snowstorm.
I've gotten the opportunity to talk with Kid quite a bit on this walk..checking in about his day, his run..shooting the breeze. Kid is our lead runner and organizes the other runners for the day's outing. Recently, we sat down outside my tent to have a little chat and put this interview together to let folks know a little bit about what makes this man run.
NJ: Tell me about how you started running
KV: I've been running ever since I was a little boy, growing up in Winchester, Kentucky. I had an amazing amount of energy as a kid and found it was a good way to use it up. On Saturday nights I would stay up late, all night in fact. I would wait for the Sunday paper to arrive, the big fat one with all the comics and movie ads in it, and I would read that. And then, right around dawn I would take off before anyone cI ould catch me, and just run. Even as a boy I always had this connection with the Earth and with running that was a spiritual connection. But it wasn't until I did my first Sacred Run that I knew there was a tradition of spiritual running that was a heritage thousands of years old.
NJ: When was this, your first Sacred Run?
KV: That was in 1991, the one we did across Canada.
NJ: How did you fnd out about it?
KV: I was at a friend's record shop in Cincinnati, Ohio..a little 45 place, you know that kind of store that sold viniyl and I met Emmett Eastman. He was there talking with my buddy and he said, “hey, Kid's a runner...you should talk to him.” And that was how I got on my first Sacred Run, it was that year, in '91.
NJ: Had you ever run distance before, competitively or in other marathons?
KV: I had run 15 miles on my own...sometimes all the way up to 25-30 miles a day. In fact, it was my first 25 mile day that I realized there were really no limits to what I could do with my body.
NJ: Dennis talks a lot about how you ran 30 mile days, ever day. Was that in 91?
KV: No, no...that was in 1996 across the States. Yeah, I ran 30 mile days for 104 consecutive days.
NJ: That's amazing, how did your body hold up to that?
KV: Well, we did run hurt...I wasn't the only one of course, there were several of us doing that...but what I found was that even when we ran hurt, our bodies would heal themselves as we ran. Your body can do what you ask it to do.
NJ: After that was over, all those miles, how did you feel?
KV: Honestly, I missed the effort so bad that I went into an amazing depression. I felt lost without all that focus.
NJ: So, tell me about that first Sacred Run, in '91. What was that like for you?
KV: Well it was amazing and I found that I immediately had a connection with it, spiritually, that I never had before.
NJ: Let's sidetrack a bit and talk about your music...you've played at some of our events and even woke us up the other morning with a couple of tunes. How long have you been playing?
KV: I've been singing since I was a teenager, I was fronting bands which was a lot of fun. And then in my twenties I picked up the guitar because I wanted to play the kind of music I wanted to hear, and that wasn't always happening with the bands.
NJ: You write songs as well, how did that come about?
KV: I started writing songs right around the same time I picked up the guitar, I've written about 70 so far...most are for the electric guitar, stuff to be played with a band that doesn't translate well to acoustic. I will say though that I'm almost finished writing my song for the Walk.
NJ: Where are you performing that?
KV: Not sure yet, wherever they ask.
NJ: Do you get nervous performing?
KV: No, not for a long time now. One of the best shows I've ever had was in front of 1200 people, opening for Johnny Winter, they were the perfect audience for me, it was a lot of fun. The most nervous I've been I think was performing for just one person.
At this point in the interview, Walker Carrie Nelson, who is part of a group of new runners walked over to us. I asked her what she thought of Kid.
KV: Hey, do you want me to leave, 'cause I'll get bashful when you start to gushing about me.
CN: (Laughs) No...no. You know, one of the things I love about you Kid..and you are one of my favorite people, is that you're a great running coach. You ask people to check-in with their bodies and then encourage them to keep going. I've found that really helpful, to learn how to listen to your body and then slow down if you need to.
KV: Than you very much, I love working with new runners.
CN: You know it's funny. Just the other day someone came up to me and we were talking about you Kid ,and this woman said, 'He's just such a humble man,' and I totally started laughing and said, 'wow, you don't know Kid do you.' (they both laugh). But actually, I was thining about you and how much I love you and I thought, okay, Kid is like a really good biscuits and gravy. You know how you can have a really, really good plate of biscuits and gravy...and then you can spend forever trying to find that again...that's what you are Kid, a really good biscuits and gravy.
KV: That's funny. I once had an old girlfriend tell me, 'Kid, you are 40 miles of bad road.'
NJ: And what did Jen say the other day? 'Kid, your singing is better than getting yelled at in the morning.'
KV: Yeah, that's a good one for the press kit.
NJ: So...we'll wrap this up, let me ask you...how has your body held up all these years, any surprises?
KV: I've been doing this kind of running now for 17 years and the only thing I am constantly surprised by is how forgiving the body is. That and the older I get the faster I used to be (laughs). No, you know, I think running is the best way to celebrate being a spiritual animal. I just love it.
NJ: Anything you'ld like to add?
KV: Yeah, here's something. A message to the kids. Any youngster out there who says they are bored....they are woefully misguided... and that their friends and their peers have been terribly let down. It's a big, beautiful world out there with work enough for everyone.”
NJ: Thanks very much Kid.
KV: That was a lot of fun, you're welcome.