Your interest in sports may determine how you relate to this article.
Let me start by saying that I am one of “them,” but I did not always fully understand “them.”
In high school, I played football and I knew my classmates who were cross-county runners were a little crazy. As time went on, I ran more and more distance and fell in love with running and the sport. I still run to stay in shape, but the scenery does not go by nearly as fast as it used to, if you know what I mean.
I am thinking about this as I am attending a half-marathon race that my daughter is running. Crazy is a pretty good word to describe runners. There are a lot of people at this event in Minneapolis and it happens to be a beautiful day, but I can almost assure you that there would be nearly the same number of runners even if the weather was nasty.
Most runners have come to expect that weather is simply part of the sport and they embrace it. Running events are held in freezing weather, scorching weather, rain, shine, wind or calm. Many of the races, especially road races, start early in the morning while other people are sleeping and no runners complain because that’s simply the way it is. Besides, runners prefer cool weather.
Runners don't expect extravagant amenities. As long as there are a lot of porta-potties near the starting line and bananas and water or Gatorade at the end, they are happy. Cool T-Shirts and unique medals are a bonus.
I like to participate in races, but on this particular day, due to an injury, I’m a spectator and see runners of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. When the gun goes off, the racers are all over the board. Some are running to win, some are trying to set a new personal record, some are just hoping to run the entire race, others are running with a friend for fun, and some are running for a cause.
Runners are kind of hard to explain and sometimes their logic is not logical, but they love running and overcoming challenges.
In some ways, runners are a lot like farmers. Most farmers have come to expect that they will deal with the uncertainty of the weather and the bureaucracy of the USDA. Farms and farmers are all shapes, sizes and ages with all kinds of different goals. Farmers are so unique that they’re willing to spend millions of dollars on a farm and name it after the person they bought it from, rather than themselves. That is what makes farmers great.
So why is it that when a farmer retires, if they ever do, they may not be interested in maximizing how much rent they charge to a family member or a good neighbor? While farming, we want every penny possible when we sell our crop, each year and we want the best deal possible when we buy a piece of equipment.
However, we don’t need a huge retirement income, and yes, we'll help our kids however possible and if the neighbor needs a hand, we'll help him too. Ask a farmer how many tillable acres he has or his best-ever corn yield and he’ll know that as fast as a runner knows his personal record.
You might not be able to explain why a runner would take off running in the rain or why a farmer has $10 million of assets and yet lives very frugally.
To those who don’t farm, sometimes it's hard to explain why farmers do what they do and why farmers gain satisfaction from the little things not related to the balance sheet.
Maybe that's why estate distributions to children who farm and children who do not farm are sometimes hard to explain.
People are always looking for logic and explanations, but maybe it’s as simple as saying that runners and farmers do what they want to do and live the way they choose to live because they can and they enjoy it.
That’s why I love runners and farmers.