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Academic English

“Trail Running – Script”

Listening Exercise

Listen to the recording trail running and read along with the conversation. Review the key vocabulary and the sample sentences.

Randall: On one summer weekend, my wife, son, and I entered an eight-kilometer running race at a place called Provo Canyon in Utah. Now, most people think of running races on neighborhood streets, uh, city streets, but in this race, participants ran on mountain trails in which you have to climb and descend parts of the course.

Now, when the race started, my son took off quickly, but my wife started and I started and stayed back and ran together. At times, we ran, and some parts, we walked because the hills were steep. Now, we’re not very competitive, so we just enjoyed talking together and enjoying the scenery. Now, during the last part of the race, as I descended a narrow, rocky trail behind my wife, I tripped on a rock or tree root . . . I don’t remember . . . and I had a spectacular fall, and in the process, I jammed my toe pretty hard. I quickly got back up and started again only to trip again.

Now, I realized I had injured my toe, but I wasn’t going to take the time to take off my shoe and sock to check the damage. Instead, we kept running, and I was feeling pretty good about our time.

However, after going about half a kilometer, I realized I was missing my hat, or at least, I thought I had started with one. My wife couldn’t remember if I had one or not, so we kept running. I just wasn’t going to turn around and look for a hat at that point in the race. It was shortly after that I realized that my watch on my wrist was gone, and both my wife and I knew I had started the race with it. At that point, I knew I must have lost both the hat and the watch in the fall, but remarkably, I hadn’t noticed either one when I fell.

Bleeding toe beneath the sock.

Slightly discouraged, I encouraged my wife to go on ahead, and I would return back on the trail to see if I could find my things. And as I proceeded up the trail, I passed a number of runners going the other way, and some wondered what I was doing, and so I asked a few people if they had seen my hat, to which they responded yes.

Well, after a little while, I spotted my hat and broken watch right next to each other off the trail. I grabbed them, and as it turned out, I must have fallen so hard that I hadn’t noticed the things being ripped off me. I quickly put on my hat and the watch . . . the broken watch . . . into my pocket and hurried down the trail, passing a few of the same people a few minutes earlier.

Now, my toe was throbbing at that point, but I pressed on at a pretty quick pace, and once I was near the end, I saw that my son (who had finished about 30 minutes earlier) had run back up the trail to meet me and run with me to the end.

Randall Davis - Grizzly Award
My Award for the Most-Injured Runner.

As it turned out, both my wife and son had won first place in their age groups, but I had no chance of placing. The problems I had really spoiled any hope of an award. However, as I sat down to rest after the race, I decided to take off my shoe and check my toe, and came to find out, my sock was soaked in blood. Pain and it hurt, but there was a bright side, if you could say that. I didn’t receive any award for placing in my age group, but the race organizers had a special award, and it was called the Grizzly Bruiser Award, and it’s given for the most injured runner in the race.

So, how does this story and experience relate to you and me in everyday life? Although everyone would like to live a life of comfort and bliss, the reality is that we often face pain and struggle. However, the key to real happiness is turning pain into something positive. In other words, challenges can make us stronger if we let them. And you discover that you are simply blessed for being alive.

Vocabulary and Sample Sentences

  • descend (verb): to go down; move from a higher place to a lower place 
    – We descended the hill to the beautiful lake below and had a peaceful lunch.
  • steep (adjective): almost straight up and down 
    – The mountain trail was steep, so it took us a long time to reach the top.
  • scenery (noun): a view of mountains, trees, hills, and valleys 
    – The scenery along the mountain trail was beautiful, and we stopped several times to take pictures.
  • spectacular (adjective): impressive, great 
    – The scenery in the valley wasn’t very spectacular, so we didn’t spend much time there.
  • slightly (adverb): a little 
    – My friends were slightly disappointed when they couldn’t join us on the spectacular hike.
  • proceed (verb): to continue or move forward 
    – We couldn’t proceed on the trip without our missing plane tickets, so we had to call the airlines for help.
  • spot (verb): to see or notice 
    The group spotted a great camping spot near the lake, and they spent two nights there.
  • hurry (verb): to move quickly 
    hurried to the car because of the heavy rain and darkness.
  • throb (verb): to feel pain that starts and stops repeatedly 
    My muscles in my legs began to throb after running for 20 miles in the hot sun.
  • pace (noun): the rate of speed at which something moves 
    James ran at a good pace during the first part of the race until he fell and injured his knee.
  • come to find out (verb): to discover something 
    John and I started the race together, but his pace was slower than mine. Later, I came to find out that he dropped from the race around mile 15 because of illness.
  • a (the) bright side (or “look on the bright side” or “be on the bright side”) (noun): a good part of a bad situation 
    I wasn’t able to run the marathon last weekend, but on the bright side of the situation, I was able to attend my sister’s wedding.
  • bliss (noun): perfect happiness 
    Running long races isn’t all bliss. There are times when you feel terrible, and you want to quit.
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