Girl Meets Bat

B. Lorraine Smith
6 min readFeb 23, 2018
The author during a morning training run in NYC. Luckily as one member of the species that designed all these shiny buildings, she’s less likely to crash into them on her various peregrinations. (Photo by Christopher Foss)

A lot of people in the long-distance running community like to share posts about their races. I’m quick to give a “like” or to add a cheerleading comment. I know how much goes into training and getting to the start line of a race, not to mention what it takes to cross the finish line. From the recently reformed couch-potato to the elite runner who seems to be a member of another species, these runners all teach me so much and I applaud them.

Despite my appreciation for runners and running, I don’t usually post on social media about my own running. I have a general rule of thumb for myself to only post things I believe add positively to the dialogue about our shared future on Earth. Random notes about my running tend not to fit that bill.

My feeling of not wanting to say much, publicly, about my own races was underscored further right after I ran the Chicago Marathon in October 2017. Not because of anything relating to the race itself — there was a lot I was proud of in terms of how I ran that race. But as I was making my way through Chicago’s downtown to find a post-race bite to eat, I came upon this dead bat on the sidewalk.

Red bat, dead on a downtown Chicago sidewalk. (Photo by B. Lorraine Smith)

He lay there, partly dismembered and rather squashed looking, at the foot of a skyscraper. (Speaking of “foot,” I just couldn’t get over his perfect, tiny left foot — tucked beside his partially outstretched wing).

Meanwhile, my phone was pinging with various messages tagging me on social media — encouraging comments and questions about the race piling in. In response, I chose to post this photo of the bat on Instagram.

The truth is, I just didn’t feel I had anything noteworthy to share about my recent marathon run; but what’s more, the sight of that dead bat highlighted for me all the creatures (human and otherwise) whose daily “endurance races” made my own running escapade that day seem somewhat less than deserving of a call-out. I found myself imagining a conversation with the little dead bat that included him saying something like:

26.2 miles? Ha! Try traveling hundreds of miles on your own steam, from one continent to another. Every spring and fall. Then let’s talk.

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B. Lorraine Smith

Former sustainability consultant replacing ESG with reality-based insights about corporate purpose and impact. https://www.blorrainesmith.com/