I brought my gym bag to Dan Scharfman’s funeral service on Wednesday. He would have approved. We weren’t close friends, but enjoyed a fellowship of sorts, amateur athletes, training to the best of our ability.
For Dan, that talent, that capability, was considerable. He was competitive. Dan ran his last marathon well under four hours.
Still, he said little about his achievements. So, many of us never knew he moved beyond marathons to 50-mile runs until his obituary, or that he was recently training for a 100-miler.
Once in while he and I met running, in opposite directions, since I could never keep his pace, on Concord Avenue or the Alewife Bike Path. We’d chat for minute or two, and then he’d head off to finish his run and get to one of his many meetings for the town or get back to his lovely family.
Along with many, perhaps a whole town, I was saddened over his death. The loss to him, the community, and especially his family is hard to imagine, let alone bear. We are left with memories: how Dan pursued the goals of his life with joy, whether running for office or for a marathon, to become stronger, to do better, to be wiser, to seed good will.
Like most things in his life, Dan did what he loved and loved what he did. He put his body in motion and went places with it, eating up miles, and taking the high hills, like the ones near the cemetery on upper Concord Avenue, where he finally rests.
I didn’t compete like Dan. For me, and probably for him, it’s not the race or competition, it’s the training: You do your best thinking when you train and feel most alive.