Q&A: Pete Dully

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From the March 22, 2012 edition

Pete Dully likes to be active. He loves his neighborhood. He loves people. Therefore he runs for fun and fitness — and delivers high fives to folks he meets along the way. He high-fives on the sidewalk, on the running trail, in businesses. His joy doesn’t discriminate.

Dully’s High Five Running group is hosting a “5K-ish” on April 1 in Clintonville. Come prepared to have fun and give copious high fives along the way.

Dully paused for a bit this week before hitting the trail in Clintonville for some good old-fashioned high fives.

I was a competitive smoker. People would ask me how much I smoked and I would say, “As much as I want.” Then I got to be 40, and I figured I was having an awesome life, but it seemed silly to unnecessarily foreshorten that. I stopped smoking, and I started doing yoga a little. I wanted to do something more physically challenging, so I started running.

The sidewalks here are narrow. I would run toward somebody and they would get all, you know, what’s gonna happen here? Is this guy gonna run around me? Finally I decided with this woman who was walking toward me, “Hey, high five!” and she did. That was really fun, and I just kind of started doing it to everybody.

So much of contemporary culture is predicated on fear. Like you’re supposed to be afraid of other people because they’re different or they’re mean or they’re diseased or they’re foreign. It’s incredibly unhealthy to walk around afraid of people all the time. It’s gotta shorten your lifespan and seriously decreases the quality of your life.

I believe fundamentally that other people are cool and they’re just like you and they just want an opportunity to give you a high five. I offer high fives to most people I come in contact with when I’m running, and about 90 percent reciprocate. There are small classes of people who are more difficult to get.

Hipster boys are a lot lower in percentage because they want to look cool and it’s very uncool to high-five strangers. That’s fear. It’s self-centered fear. What am I going to look like if I do this? Part of what is being cool in our day and age is being detached and cynical and dismissive about things that might be considered uncool. You’re not supposed to be happy and joyful, and that’s a shame. Part of what High Five Running tries to do is combat that.

Photo by Tessa Berg