NOTE: See attached PDF for related photos.
I once was an avid (and competitive) runner. In fact, running was pretty much all I did. The high school records I set in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs in 1981 still stand. I was a seven-time collegiate All-American in cross country and track. I continued to compete after college, setting a personal best of 2:20:39 in the marathon in 1992, a few months before being diagnosed with cancer (and more than half-a-life ago).
I continued to run and compete following my cancer diagnosis, but never again with the same intensity (due to a change in priorities as well as the effects of cancer-related treatment). After multiple recurrences that led to an allogeneic bone marrow transplant in 1998, I would learn that I was eligible for the U.S. Transplant Games where I participated with Team Wisconsin in 2002 and 2004 and earned multiple gold medals in the 5,000 meter road race, 1600- and 800-meter runs.
I had logged more than 70,000 miles in my life. But it seemed it was time for a change.
In 2009, while on a family vacation, I found myself paddling a kayak on the Mink River Estuary in Door County and, almost immediately, I became obsessed with kayaking. Two years later I completed Paddle de Hope, a fundraiser for Sheboygan County Cancer Care Fund, which involved more than 800-miles of kayaking along the Lake Michigan Shoreline, culminating with a two-day/100-mile circumnavigation of the Door County peninsula.
A few years after that I would fall in love with the nearby Ice Age Trail and, during one particular year, I would spend more than fifty nights on the trail that included snowshoe backpacking over the winter months.
As I’ve aged (I turned 60 earlier this year), exercise and activity have become less about pushing my body to extremes. It is no longer about how fast I run, how many miles I paddle, or how many nights I spend on the Ice Age Trail. Honestly, it is more about finding different ways to move my body and enjoy my life. As I’ve reflected before, it is simply about moving more and sitting less (https://scccf.org/post?s=the-world-according-to-tim-sit-less-move-more-2021-04-08).
Sure, I still run (or jog), but certainly not as far, as fast, or as often. But I’ve added a bunch of other ways to move my body... and in different ways. Currently I enjoy indoor rowing (especially now that our ST&BF Indoor Row Group Season is underway), as well as disc golf, qigong (https://scccf.org/post?s=world-according-to-tim-yoga-tai-chi-qigong-of-these-qigong-is-my-favorite-2022-08-09) and my latest passion – Kite Flying.
I suspect that when most people think of kite flying, the image that comes to mind is that of a youngster casually holding the line to a small kite that is dancing in the breeze, or maybe that same youngster running across an open field trying to launch a kite. Those are perfectly fine and enjoyable ways to fly kites and, at least on occasion, that’s what I do. But I have become fascinated by some of the larger kites as well as dual-line foil kites, both of which can be a bit more involved.
Earlier this fall I had the opportunity to share my passion for flying large kites with the current LIVESTRONG group on a cool and blustery morning at Deland Park. As a kite enthusiast, I enjoy talking about kites, seeing the smile on people’s faces when they see a kite in the air or, better yet, when they experience the magic of getting a kite in the air for themselves!
Photo (see attached PDF): Sharing my passion for kiting with the LIVESTRONG group on a sunny but cool and blustery fall day at Deland Park. Circled: my white 16sqm Trilobite kite camouflaged amidst the clouds. Photo by Denice Nugent.
Large kites can generate significant pull. For proof, I offer this reporting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Vom-dadLnQ
Although none of my kites are as large as the one in this video (Photo: see attached PDF), I do make safety a priority.
Photos (see attached PDF): LIVESTRONG participants Ana & Tom place ground screws for the anchor lines. Below – LIVESTRONG participants take “steps” to prepare the kite for launch. Photos submitted by Denice Nugent.
Like so many other physical activities, you can get out of kite flying whatever you put into it. There can be a good amount of work involved in flying kites (well, it’s really not “work” to me... it’s more like “play”). And I love it!
As you may suspect, the most enjoyable part of kite flying is launching the kites, which also happens to be the easiest - the wind does all the work.
Once the kite is in the air, I can choose to just sit back and relax and enjoy the kite... or I can set up and launch more kites (photo below). My record is eleven.
Or I can add some “line laundry”. Line laundry includes inflatables (like the 32-foot seahorse at left or the 35-ft turbine below) as well as spin socks, banners, streamers or flags that are attached to the kite line and lifted in the air by the kite.
As much as I enjoy the physical aspect of kite flying, I enjoy the social aspect of kite flying as much if not more. Whether I find myself flying with fellow cancer survivors/co-survivors at a ST&BF Great Heights with Delightful Kites outing, with fellow members of the Wisconsin Kiters Club, or all by myself (which I often enjoy doing), once I get a kite or two up in the air, it seems to attract people... good people... friendly people... grateful people... smiling people! Let’s face it, this world can use more smiles! I love it when people stop by to chat – about kites or anything else. And I enjoy seeing folks stop and take photos or selfies with the kites in the background!
Eventually, all of the kites need to be pulled down, packed up, and put away... but that’s all part of the play... part of the fun (and part of the workout)!
You may think it to be odd that I share these remarks about kite flying in late November, at the brink of another winter. But watch for more kite-flying opportunities both before and AFTER the snow falls... when “Survivors on Snow Shoes” can reach “Great Heights with Delightful Kites” and I invite you to join me!View PDF