This year, since he put Strava on his phone (late April), John has run 274 miles. Gained 21,109 feet in elevation, run for 44 hours and 12 minutes and that’s only the last 33 runs. He has reached mountain peaks, seen the snow in July and raced down the valleys. I am told he will end up running around 1000 miles before race day in September.
His last run on the Loafer Mountain Trail was 11.5 miles a 3,476 foot gain, it took him 3 hours and 8 minutes. He saw beautiful vistas, took lots of pictures and made it home safe. Then he took a cold soak for an hour because his legs were cramping up and sore. And then he took some anti inflammatory meds and ate a huge dinner. And then he slept hard like a snoring rock!
What possesses him to push so hard? Way past the point of the average persons willingness to endure? To run 100 miles? According to Billy Yang in THE WHY, a documentary that was recently featured in Runners World, “It’s a crazy wild journey”.
The documentary covers a race in Leadville which is one of the oldest and most punishing races out there. Billy starts the race focused on gratitude that he is fit and able to run the race. He took with him in his thoughts those who could not. He contemplates just how far we, the human race, have softened. How far removed we have become from what we once were. If we still have our primitive instincts to endure, suffer and in the end, survive.
Races give a runner plenty of time to be introspective, to ask questions because you need to hear them said out loud.
“The human body, designed to move. To hunt, to flee, to really be tested. But somewhere along the way, comfort became the key to happiness. Yet these things, these material things, never seem to make us happy. In the process we’ve softened both mentally and physically. When did we loose our way? Is there something in our DNA that strangely finds comfort through discomfort?”
“Everything in a hundred mile race builds to the moment when you are stripped raw and think you’re done. But that’s when the race really begins, that’s when you find out what you’re really made of.”
Why? It’s proving to yourself you CAN. It’s all about the climb, the fight, the ultimate satisfaction of finishing the impossible. Its not just a 100 mile race, it’s not just one race. It’s a journey and you take it with your Self, your Family and your People.
You know how the saying goes, every journey begins with a single step. (And in this case about 20 pair of worn down running shoes!)