My name is Heather and I am a habitual hugger. I love hugs. For me, hugs are a sign of acceptance, celebration, comfort, and love. Through the past year, my instinct to hug the meaningful people in my life has stopped. Why? Because hugging isn’t the same experience for everyone. Some find it embarrassingly awkward, stiflingly uncomfortable, or highly inappropriate. Their interaction with this kind of contact is theirs to experience without any preconceived expectations and on their own terms. It is their right to distribute the embrace if and when they choose. I would never want to unnecessarily cause anyone that kind of discomfort and I respectfully honour everyone’s decision to utilize their bodies in whatever way makes them happy.
This doesn’t mean that I do not want to symbolically ‘hug’ all of you. I do. The difference is that I am now trying to find ways to show you how much I appreciate you in meaningful gestures and words. One of my roles at Happy Trails Racing is community engagement and making everyone feel as though they are valued from the first-time racer to the elite racer (and all you inspiring people in-between). I aim to provide an environment of inclusivity for anyone who takes part in our vision. Volunteers, spectators, venue staff, sponsors, racers - we are all a part of this journey.
Please note, if you are a hugger and need or want a hug, I’m all in. I won’t hold on too long and will release you when I’m given the telltale “tap tap tap” on the back. I promise to try to smell decently pleasant (if I’m post-race, I can’t guarantee this). I will lead with the customary ‘head to the left’ so we don’t do the face-to-face bobblehead left to right and you don’t think that I’m trying to get a kiss out of you (disregard photo at left - I lifted my head up to give her smiling face the full photo focus it deserved). If you are wearing a hydration pack, I will lessen the tightness of my embrace so I do not squish your water or any nutrition that may be embedded in the pack.
In all seriousness, you will see new movements from us for community connection in the following year and we invite you to participate should it entice you in any way. We also welcome you to share your talents or passions with us as we are stronger together and supporting one another is the keystone to Happy Trails Racing.
Photo: Erin, a volunteer, goes in for a hug. I accepted.
Happy Trails -