A Passion for Running & A Love for Writing – Dave Essinger, M.F.A.
University of Findlay is knowns for its small campus community, hands-on learning opportunities for students, and strong science, health professions, education, and business programs. This series takes a different approach, highlighting the lives of four University faculty and staff members, and showcasing their talents outside the classroom.
In our third installment in the series, we try to keep up with University of Findlay English Professor Dave Essinger. His passion for running started early, as he ran cross country and track in high school. After taking several years off from running, Dave and his soon-to-be wife started talking about getting into shape before their wedding. “She started talking about running, and I was like ‘Gee, I used to be able to run,’ so we went out and did a couple 5K’s.” After joining a running group, and noticing that everyone was training for marathons, Dave and his fiancée decided to give it a try. “It was tough, and it was terrible…so we decided to run another one,” he said after running the first marathon.
Running became an itch that the two couldn’t scratch. 5K’s and marathons (26.2 miles) were not enough anymore. Dave and his wife began running ultra-marathons (31 miles+), even competing in 100-mile races. “Part of the appeal of 100-mile races is the real possibility of failure. It’s not like a local 5k where you get a medal either way. If you drop out of the race or cross the finish line after the cut off time, you don’t get a thing except for the pain from running,” Dave said. “It’s part of the allure—finding out what your body will do and what it won’t do. Every couple of years you wonder, ‘can I still do it?’”
A passion for running, and a love for writing came together in 2017 with the release of Dave’s novel, “Running Out.” 235 pages of adventure takes readers on a journey as elite endurance runner, Dan Collins, runs the race of his life. After a plane crash in a remote Canadian wilderness, Collins laces up his trail shoes in an attempt to save the lives of his wife, his daughter, and himself. One reader review states, “An impossible to put down first novel that weaves the science of running seamlessly into the story of a man’s fight for his family’s survival, and his own, as he races through the wilderness toward civilization and help.”
While he loves to write, Dave says it’s not the easiest thing to do, “running is easier for me than writing, I’ll tell you that,” he says. “With writing, you have to mentally be there, and you know if it’s not good. With running, you’re just out there doing it.” Despite the difficulty, Dave believes it’s best to simply do it. “Don’t be afraid to write crap. Even if you’re pretty sure it’s going to be terrible, writing it is better than not writing it. The same can be said when deciding whether or not to go out for that short run. ‘I feel awful and it’s going to be terrible,’ but it’s better to go do the terrible thing, than to go do nothing,” he said.
Lately, Dave says he has enjoyed running with his daughter June, who runs track and cross country for Bluffton High School. Together, the Essinger family is looking to tackle triathlons. Dave also continues to write, and his current novel, “Compassion Fatigue,” features a struggling small-town veterinarian. To learn more about Dave Essinger, his novel “Running Out,” and his current works in progress, please visit his website.