Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I spent the weekend of August 18th in Breckenridge, CO alongside a handful of my TT1 teammates and a couple of ESPN videographers, assigned to tell the stories of the three other athletes present, and two members of the Running Team stationed several miles away in Leadville.
The guys, Jon Obst and Ryan Jones, were preparing to run the Leadville 100 - a legendary "race across the sky." 100 miles of grueling terrain in the thinnest of air, capping at an elevation of 12,000ft. While I was busy relaxing in a hot tub and looking at the mountain scenery, Jon and Ryan were prepping their drop bags and readying themselves to tackle an unimaginable feat. They talked about simply wanting "to survive," about the "endless forward motion," about the challenges of enduring the sleeplessness and the delirium.
The next morning, after the two men had finished the race, I was sitting with the Team Marketing Officer, Alex Kaminsky, back in Breckenridge. "How'd it go?" I asked. Alex told me that, around mile 80, Ryan had talked about how much he simply wanted to quit, and the extent to which he relied on his pacers to pull him through that final stretch.
"Yeah, I mean, you're 80% finished, right? Why would you quit then?"
Alex looked at me, and smiled. "At mile 80, you still have a marathon left to run. Think about that: For most distance runners, a marathon is the goal. It's the ultimate achievement. He still had that before him after finishing 80 miles."
That was the moment in which I really understood the undertaking, in which I truly conceptualized the amazingness of that effort. I've run marathons, and I know about the moment when you feel like quitting...when you look off the side of the course, and realize that the only thing stopping you from simply walking off is your own determination. Your feet hurt, your body feels as if it might break in half, and you just keep moving. To do that four times over in 24 hours? That is fortitude.

If you run - or if you don't - this is worth a look:

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