Last Updated on December 14, 2021 by David Vause

It was there for just a couple of seconds just above the northern horizon, a fireball with a tail. As it plummeted downward, perpendicular to the horizon, leaving a trail of what appeared to be small debris. Then it was gone, probably incinerated by the atmosphere, disappearing in the early morning dark sky.

I reserve my “another reason why I run” entries for times that I am lucky enough to witness a purely natural event. This was probably an artificial object re-entering the atmosphere and burning up. I have only seen one other occasion in 17 years of pre-dawn running. The other was also in the northern sky, parallel and near the horizon. It was larger than today’s and left a train of visible glowing pieces as it came apart.

Both occurred as I near the end of my runs. No, they were not long-run hallucinations! Both were bright, startling, and quite momentary. Neither was momentous, just punctuations in decades of running. When you’re outside as much as a long-distance runner, things will inevitably happen. It is the real life that occurs when you don’t spend it watching on-screen entertainment.

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