Despite our age we enjoy staying at hostels. It’s not because they are the cheapest place for a couple to stay (typically they’re not) or because of the plush decor (sure). It’s because hostels have an inviting community feel and attract an interesting collection of people. The Avenues Hostel in Salt Lake City was especially enjoyable because we met travelers our age from different countries, living life on their terms instead of just going with the flow.
It was at The Avenues Hostel that we crossed paths with 63 year old Hijime Nishi, again, literally. The first time was while running a marathon in Ohio about five years ago where he was one of the celebrity runners. He stood out from the other marathoners because of his unusually thick, powerful non-asian like chest and legs plus he was running with a camera. In 1988 Mr. Nishi was a successful business owner in Japan when his wife died of cancer. After some soul searching he concluded that he wanted to do more with his life than make money so he decided to use marathon running as a vehicle to spread his idea of building a more ecologically sound world and to encourage people to slow down and enjoy life more. He runs 4 to 5 marathons a month. He set the Guinness Record for “the man to have run seven marathon on seven continents in the shortest amount of time”. Hijime is also the first non-North American to have run a marathon in all 50 states and DC. He uses the term Ecomarathoning to describe his type of running which emphasizes going slowly enough to visit with people, take pictures and pick up some trash along the way. To avoid using paper cups he carries a water bottle. His type of running has caught on with other runners and some race directors. In the Ecomarathon that he is race director of in Japan you are disqualified if your finish time is less than five hours. To learn more you can visit his blogspot at http://hajimenishi.blogspot.com/ but unfortunately most of it is in Japanese.
We also met Patricia, an upbeat and funny 53 year old teacher and counselor from Argentina. She was at the hostel because she wanted to see The Great Salt Lake and to attend a conference associated with a new business she’s starting. Just like Hijime she was excited about life and appeared much younger than her stated age. Meeting interesting people with positive attitudes is stimulating and I always seem to meet at least one such person when I stay at a hostel.