A Run in Memory of My Dad

July 1, 2016 was the 10 year anniversary of my father Steve Hugill's death. He lost his battle with cancer at 56 years old. It's hard to believe it has been 10 years. I was visiting for the weekend the day my dad died. He was living at home, but under hospice care. We shared a glass of wine and conversation the night I arrived. I expected to see him the next morning. But my stepmom Kim woke me up at about 5 AM and told me that he had gone in his sleep. The best way to go, of course. And I have to think part of the timing is that I was in town for a visit. (The hospice nurse said she expected him to have weeks, or even a couple months left.)

That was a difficult day. The following day I was registered to run a 4th of July themed 4 mile race. I could have canceled, but I showed up to run the Columbus, Ohio race anyway. It was a very emotional 4 miles, but I'm glad I did it. That was the first run I dedicated to my dad. The second run was the Columbus Marathon later that year. On the 10th anniversary of losing my dad, I wanted to do something to honor him. I chose to go for a run on Theodore Roosevelt Island. It's wooded and peaceful. I had a nice, contemplative run/walk on the trails.

On one of the non-technical trails on Roosevelt Island, for my dad

The trail goes under the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge on I-66
View of the Georgetown waterfront from Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island is not only a small island in the middle of the Potomac River. It is also a National Park and a monument to President Theodore Roosevelt. The Island is on a stretch of the river between Georgetown and Arlington, and is accessible by a foot bridge from a parking lot along the George Washington Parkway. There is a plaza in the center of the island with a statue of the late president, and some carvings of some of his quotes. There is also a nice water feature and stone work. The island is perfect for walking, light hiking or trail running. There are both technical and non-technical trails and a section of boardwalk. It's a very fitting memorial to a president who loved nature.

Monuments to Teddy Roosevelt

It was a hot day, but slightly more bearable under the tree cover of the island. My goal was simply to remember my dad on this run. I had no mileage, pace or time goals. I ended up doing just over three miles, with quite a bit of that walking. Because part of the trail is technical, when I ran, I needed to keep my thoughts on the trail ahead of me. Therefore, after the first mile I decided to do more walking and thinking. I thought about the things I always enjoyed about my dad, and I also thought about the many things he missed out on in the last decade. Or, did he? None of us truly knows what happens to the human consciousness after our physical body dies. But I do believe that the energy that is a person's life-force lives on, somehow. Maybe my dad was there with me on the trails. I like to think that he was.

From the Roosevelt Island footbridge, kayakers head south to the I-66 Roosevelt Bridge


  1. What a beautiful way to remember the man who was, and is, so important in your life. He was proud of you then, and he'd be even prouder of you now. ILY


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