During my years at Princeton, I ran the towpath a lot. I was on the cross country and track teams, and I did four or five marathons per year.
When I was a senior, a movie-production company was hired by the University to do a promotional short. For some reason, they decided that I might be useful. The idea was to film me running along the towpath, then to talk to me about general relativity (the topic of my thesis, and still the focus of my research). I was game.
They filmed me running back and forth along the towpath 10 or 15 times. Then they got me talking about relativity. Two days later, it was back to the towpath for more filming.
A few months later, however, they called me to say they had decided not to include me in the film. I was disappointed — this was the end of my movie career. I was even more disappointed when the movie, Princeton: A Search for Answers, won an Academy Award in 1974.
After I got over my disappointment, I asked if I could see the footage with me running. I was famous in the running community for having incredibly bad running form, and I wanted to see how bad it really was. But the filmmakers wouldn’t do it. And I stopped running the towpath.
The first time since then that I have run the towpath was this past year, when I was in town to give a talk in the math department. I did the loop, from the Washington Street bridge to Kingston and back. Remarkably, it looked like it hadn’t changed a bit: the same roots across the path, the same branches between the path and the lake.
I forgave the towpath.