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2012 Archives

Hospital chaplain discovers "spiritual awakening" as a long-distance trail runner


The following story ran in the June 28, 2012, edition of the Dallas Morning News.

June 28, 2012

By Leslie Garcia

Maybe it happens at 3 a.m., when he trips on a tree root that his flashlight missed. Or when he feels yet another pebble stuck in his shoes. Or when he’s so hungry or tired or sweating or shivering that he’d trade just about anything for a shower and a hamburger.

But at various points during the 9 or 20 or 25 hours it takes him to traipse through 50- or 100-mile trail runs, Matthew Crownover starts thinking about joy, about life, and about how his own travails at the moment can seem somewhat petty.

“Half the time I have tears in my eyes about my patients,” says Crownover, who recently ran a 50-mile trail event in New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains. “Wouldn’t they love to be out here … [complaining] about a rock in their shoe?”

Crownover, 39, is a chaplain at Texas Health Presbyterian, working primarily on the oncology floor or with psychiatric patients. One evening, just before he was getting ready to go home, he received a call from labor and delivery. A woman was to be induced within an hour or so. What necessitated the call to Crownover was that her baby was dead.

So Crownover called upon on his experience — as a chaplain, as a father of four, as a trail runner. ...

A Dallas native, Crownover attended Austin College and Perkins School of Theology, then ecumenical seminary in Cuba for a year. He served as a chaplain at Parkland and Baylor hospitals before coming to Presbyterian five years ago....