What has to be inside a person to start running, knowing that for the next 24 hours or so he'll probably still be running? And how must this person's brain be wired to convince his body to keep doing what it probably isn't made to do?
I wanted to know, and so Dave and I volunteered to help at an aid station along the Burning River 100 Trail Race, which started yesterday at Squire's Castle in North Chagrin, and ended somewhere in Cuyahoga Falls this morning. Our shift was 2:00 AM until the cut-off at 6:22 AM.
Our aid station was situated at Everett covered bridge, at miles 80.8 and 85.5 (the trail here was a 4.7 mile loop, so we checked bib numbers as runners started the loop, and recorded their time when they came back out.)
It was a strange, subcultural kind of event. Family members and supporters in lawn chairs lined the bridge, waiting for the tiny little dot of a headlamp (or two, since many runners had 'pacers' with them) emerge out of the middle-of-the-night blackness. Some appeared strong and fresh, as if they maybe had been running for an hour or so. Many others seemed a bit worse for wear, but persisted at whatever pace they could sustain.
Some dropped out at that point, unable to face the final 15 miles and the prospect of another 3 or 4 hours of this brutality.
I give them ALL credit. They are amazing, incredible, and I would imagine a bit insane.
I for one, could/would never do anything like this, but I can maybe see why someone would. Or can I?
I have other friends who participate in ultrasport events:
- Tim Marks, who will be doing the AdventureCorps Furnace Creek 508 (508 miles of cycling through Death Valley and environs, with a 48 hour time limit) in October.
Tim's wife, Jill, and I rode a century together last February, in Death Valley, which looks like an average club ride in comparison...
- Susan Reed, an addiction counselor and recumbent bike rider who regularly logs 10,000 miles a year.
- Our friends Kari and Larry Newman, and their son Nathan who are riding across America (actually, I DO want to do this at some point in my life)...
- A bunch of Grunt Girls just recently ran the BT50K. I know lots of these gals embrace the ultrasport mentality.
So, what DOES it take to be able to do something like this?
- What's your motivation? Why do you want to do ultrasport?
- What keeps you moving when your body wants to stop?