The Joy of Running in the Greenbelt

Runners on a woodland trail in the Staten Island Greenbelt

By Josh Pesin

When I run through the Greenbelt, my senses become heightened and my body and soul become one with nature. Any worries and anxieties that are on my mind melt away as my body glides through the woods. Immersing myself in nature is always uplifting.

Running along the trails feels effortless, largely due to the soft earth beneath my feet. Looking at the trail in front of me, I see a path that seems to go on forever.  This opening in the woods becomes so inviting; I feel as if it’s there just for me. This air is saturated with the moisture from the surrounding plants and trees. In summer, there is natural “air conditioning.” During the winter, the leafless trees can take on a coating of snow and paint the Greenbelt white.  The running experience becomes even more magical.

The meandering trails provide an adventure full of forest surprises as my body zigzags along. I may come across a deer or two, an eagle soaring overhead as it searches for is prey, or a downed tree exposing a very intricate root system that displays its own natural beauty.

Running up and down the glacier-carved inclines and declines of the hills and valleys reminds me of a thrilling roller coaster ride. My own body is the roller coaster and the trails are the tracks!

When I am done with my run, I feel that not only is my body cleansed, but my soul is as well. As I exit the Greenbelt and enter the civilized world yet again, it is only a matter of time before I make a return to where I know I rightfully belong.  People are essentially animals after all, and nature beckons us to come back soon.

Josh Pesin is a trail and marathon runner, and an active member of the Staten Island Athletic Club (SIAC).  Josh is a special education teacher who lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.