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For those not as willing to compete, there's always the Boy Joggers

The Boy Joggers Association of America is an organization, founded in 2008, which dedicates itself to the act of jogging like a little boy.

Contrary to what the name implies, the Boy Joggers Association does not exclude girls, or anyone for that matter, from joining. The group was founded on Aug. 19, 2008, when a group of Detroit Lakes High School students running the Make the Lake run got tired of trying to maintain a competitive pace. They collectively decided to swallow their pride and slow down to one more suitable for a 10-mile run -- that of an adolescent boy.

Soon, girls and boys from other towns who had been left in the dust by their teams joined us, and the Boy Joggers, which didn't even have a name yet, quickly snowballed into something big and beautiful. Runners scoffed and sneered at our humble pace as they Man Trotted past us, but at the end of the day we crossed the same finish line as everyone else, with nothing lost and everything gained for coming in 10 minutes late.

Make the Lake, after all, is not a race, it's a Fun Run; and while most of the crowd spent their circuit around Detroit Lake trying to prove how fast they were, we, the Boy Joggers of America, took in the view. And unlike the galloping throngs who were giving all they had trying to win, we always had enough air in our lungs to carry on a conversation. Physically, the Boy Joggers may have come in last place, but we achieved the moral victory...even if there really are no winners in a Fun Run.

For, though the Boy Joggers Association may appear to be just another high school club, an asinine inside joke, it is really something more than that. It is an ideal, a representation of the live and let live, all-inclusive spirit that defines my cross-country team.

A Boy Jogger is too confident in himself to try to win something, such as a Fun Run, that cannot be won. A Boy Jogger does not run scenic routes without slowing down to appreciate the lakes and woodlands that are all around him.

Finally, a Boy Jogger does not let anyone run alone -- ever. Occasionally, we'll catch up with an anti-social type who does not want to become a Boy Jogger, who wishes to continue on his or her merry way undisturbed.

But there are bears in the woods and bad men crouching in every gutter, so a rebellious will must be crushed at any cost, every misguided loner must become a joiner. And in the end, the allure of the Boy Joggers cannot be resisted.

This spring, a number of founding members and administrators retired from the Boy Jogging realm. I have no doubt that they will spread the message at whatever colleges they attend, but there was still a palatable absence at Make the Lake last Friday, the effects of which all the remaining members could feel.

Without our Boy Harvester, the recruiting didn't come as easily, and who was to physically represent the abstract concept of Boy Jog with our only True Boy down in Morris?

However, as a Boy Jogger -- who in fact holds the office of "Our Very Own Darker Child" -- once wrote, "Boy Jogging is a way of life." And it is not just a way of life, but one which must be preserved. So if I find myself a senior and among the last Boy Joggers on the team, even if no one jumps aboard the Boy Jog Express next year, then I will still continue on my slow -- yet steady -- pace and proclaim my cause to everybody who passes me.

And then I will remind myself that, while the serious runners may put more of themselves into a Fun Run than the Boy Joggers, the latter take more from it in the end.

Nathan Kitzmann is a junior at Detroit Lakes High School.