Taking Life in Stride
By Harvey Mitro
238 pages, $24.99 Canadian Dollars
As a first edition of Sasha’s Stories I wanted to find a book approachable for everyone, from those who read a lot to those who occasionally pick up a beach read and finally the group that’s yet to discover the best way to recover from a run, the non-readers out there. I picked Harvey Mitro’s Taking Life in Stride: Stories from Life on The Run, which is a collection of 29 short stories. It is a book you can pick up, put down, start from the middle, start from the back, and just find the one story that speaks to you.
Harvey Mitro is a decorated Canadian middle-distance runner. More importantly, he’s an integral part of the Toronto running fabric. I sat down with Harvey before the holidays to ask him to be my first guest on Sasha’s Stories. From all I’d heard about Harvey and his kind and thoughtful interactions over social media, I knew that despite being nervous to meet Harvey, he’d welcome me in with an open heart. Similar to his demeanour, his collection of short memoirs drew me in as it explored Harvey’s life through the vantage point of a runner.
One story in particular spoke to me, On the Trail with Danny Kassap. I am one of the fortunate to know Danny. I trained alongside him; Danny used to run my longer intervals before he started his workout so I wouldn’t be out training on my own. Danny once gave me a pair of New Balances racing flats because I kept racing in these thick trainers (remember those really thin shoes we thought would make us race faster!). Why was Danny, living paycheque to paycheque, giving me the fortunate North York kid a pair of shoes? That was Danny, always wanting the best for everyone who touched his life. I still have those flats and look upon them often with teary eyes and a thankful heart that I continue to have this opportunity to race and run.
When Danny passed away in 2011 it rocked the Greater Toronto running community. One of Danny’s lifetime goals was to compete for Canada at the Olympics in the marathon; he trained tirelessly as he worked at a Fish and Chips shop to support his endeavours. Danny did everything with a giant smile, no matter the hardship from gruelling marathon workouts, to long hours on his feet working, or immigration battles to garner Canadian citizenship. That smile drew you in, the same way it captivated Harvey as Danny was running repeats in Cedervale park back in 2003 as Harvey, “tried [to] match his strides through several repeats.” Danny optimized what it is to take life in stride.
Danny calmly and easily dealt with unpleasant or difficult things, not only not allowing it to affect what he was doing, but to continue to do it with a smile that was as wide as his stride.
I cannot wait to sit down with Harvey on January 24th at 7:30pm EST to learn more about what story speaks to you. To register for the event: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sashas-stories-episode-1-with-harvey-mitro-tickets-501312387847