Attorney Spotlight Part 5: Harris M. Livingstain

McGuire Wood & Bissette Attorney Harris Livingstain

From time to time this newsfeed will include a closer look at our attorneys. The posts will be on topics not necessarily about the law but about what is personally important to our attorneys outside the office. This is the fifth installment of our spotlight as we feature Attorney Harris Livingstain. Harris is a N.C. State Bar Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law. Click here to see his bio.

Harris is also a runner and particularly loves trail running in these beautiful Great Smoky Mountains. Below are several pictures taken while he was on the trail and stopped to pause the scene. Thank you Harris for sharing your pictures and interesting story about how you challenge yourself and clear your mind through running. I think all of us can relate in some way with this need we have to escape from time to time in order to re-charge our everyday lives. Please enjoy his story below.

“Trail Running and the Practice of Law

There is no apparent correlation between these two activities. When running the mountain trails around Asheville and Western NC you are surrounded by such natural beauty, experience eye-widening vistas and encounter various kinds of wildlife; the practice of law, well just doesn’t match up in terms of the physical elements.  However, the mental challenges can be similar. I’ll get to that later, but let me first explain how I became enthralled with the trail


I moved to Asheville in early 1993 from Washington, DC and, while I had been running for years prior to moving to Asheville, my running routes were the streets of DC.  I began my Asheville legal career with another law firm and one of the partners suggested that I sign up to run the Shut-In Ridge Trail Run – a 17 mile trail run on the Mountains-to Sea-Trail from the Asheville Arboretum to the Mt. Pisgah parking lot.  I had run several marathons and other distance races in DC and Northern Virginia, so I thought “17-miles”  – OK, I can do that – no big deal.” This partner set me up for some practice runs with her trail-hardened runner husband, and I was humbled to say the least. I was introduced to an entirely new running experience. I completed that first Shut-In Trail run in a respectable time and I was hooked, ultimately running that race each year for the following 20+ years. There were a few times when the trail, injuries and the often unpredictable weather conditions got the best of me and I did not finish, but the challenge and camaraderie among those running the race year after year kept me signing up for the race. This year’s race, which I believe was my 25th , and my poorest performance, will have to be my last, unless…………well I’ve said that the most recently completed race was my last before so I don’t know if I can trust myself to really call it “the last.”


What is it about trail running that is so….to me, compelling.  It can be treacherous and you often trip and smash your toes on roots and rocks, and there is at least a once per run “face plant” on the trail floor. But that is exactly what is compelling – the challenge. When trail running you have to be constantly focused on the terrain. Your next foot plant must be precise so as to a void roots and rocks barely visible beneath the leaves and other forest debris. Maintaining balance becomes a must. But the views that greet you when you emerge from a long stretch where the trail is like a single lane road dissecting a high rise city scape of trees and the feeling of cruising through a tunnel formed entirely of wild rhododendron. That feeling is special and re-experiencing it time and time again is well worth the physical effort and risks.


So, that brings me back to how trail running is like practicing law; the mental challenges, right…………? Really I don’t want to go there and discolor the mental picture of the experience.  The separation of the two is one of the best by-products of the experience.  I could try and draw parallels between the degree of concertation and attention to detail, the goal oriented similarity of the two activities, but in doing so I think will diminish the “escape” element that trail running allows you – to force oneself to actually “live in the now” of the activity and let your mind rest from everything else for an hour or two as you hop, run, climb, jump, traverse on and about the best that nature can offer.”  


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