Just a few years ago, March 20, 2012 to be exact, I was having a very bad day at work and life was really starting to push me to the point of breaking so I took off on a little jog at lunch. I hadn’t run since the summer of 1998, but I needed something to release a little bit of life’s stresses. I’m not sure why I chose running over all of the other crutches that are out there but I wouldn’t change it.
I remember starting at Sequiota Park and running towards Seminole. I made it all the way down to the rail road bridge before needing to stop to catch my breath. I remember stopping to walk for a few minutes, and feeling this sense of peace and I was calm. This is something that I hadn’t felt in a very long time. I knew I needed to add this into my daily routine to help me keep from going crazy.
Fast forward a year and I just came back from Rocky Raccoon watching OMRR members Jeff Jones and David Murphy finish a grueling 100 mile run in high humidity. Then I had the opportunity to see Tara Homburg and Shane Naugher hammer out the Prairie Spirit 100. Little did these 4 people know, but they put a burning desire deep in my soul. I wanted to run a 100 mile race, now to find one that would meet my criteria of close to home, single track and very low key. For those who don’t know me I hate to travel, love trails and was very worried about being close to death finishing something like this. The fewer people that seen me close to death the better.
I had the opportunity to pace Jeff at Mark Twain 100 the previous year and remember the awesome course, support and race directors. So in the back of my mind this was the race I wanted. Now all I needed was to have the balls to sign up for the race. Then one day I was working remote and I took a little nap during lunch, and I must have dreamt about running. I woke up and thought to myself, you will never run a 100 if you don’t sign up. Like any idiot would do, jumped on the PC and signed up. Then I thought, what in the heck are you thinking? I had never raced more than a 50k and honestly didn’t know how to build a training plan for a 5k let alone 100 miles. Luckily I knew David Murphy had started coaching and his race results are all the proof I needed to know this dude knows his stuff. I called David and let him know what I had done. He kind of laughed at me and we started the journey of getting me mentally and physically ready for the task that would be at hand. I had from early April to mid-September to get ready and it took every week of it.
Week by week and mile by mile I trained. I had some very good weeks when I thought I was going to crush it and I had some very bad weeks when I could barely finish a run, but I didn’t quit and kept my eye on the big picture. If I had a dollar for every time David told me “100’s are all about running on tired legs” I could take a trip to Disney Land and run one of those princess runs or something.
In June my mileage was really starting to build up and I was on the way to hammer out a long run with the Idiots Running Club relay for life team. About half way there I received a call from my dad. He told me he had been working out and he hurt his back, but there was nothing to worry about. Wished me luck and off I went. I could tell there was a little bit of worry in his voice, but I figured he was just in pain nothing major. I ran, watched one of the best fireworks shows I’ve ever seen and had the opportunity to actually chat and get to know some of the IRC peeps from down south. I returned home the following day and called my dad to see how he was feeling, and I was surprised to find he had to have a rush surgery to remove a tumor in his spine that was pushing on his spine. A few days later he was diagnosed with colon cancer and it has spread to several other locations throughout his body. What a reality check to what’s actually important in life. So, my training was but on the back burner for a few days as I drove to OKC to see my dad. David and I would speak just about every day and we would work the training schedule around what little time I had to run. After a few days in OKC I returned home, I was mentally broken and physically worn out, but I kept training. All of a sudden running became my stress reliever again just like then beginning of my running journey. I found my focus and motivation and was able to run mile after mile asking questions like why? What if? I would run the trails and have old memories randomly pop into my head. I would run with tears flowing down my face and really didn’t care. I had a freedom out there and it let me clear my mind.
With everything going on in my personal life the race approached a little quicker than expected, but I knew David had provided a great training plan, and I had put in the work. I’m very lucky to have a great training partner in Jeff Jones that had also been making sure I had been putting in the time. Jeff and I would discuss nutrition and game plan on our long runs, so we knew what the plan was come race day. Our plan was to leave from Jeff’s house at 3:00 on Friday, September 12. On my way to pick Jeff up I knew I needed to call my dad since I was going to be off grid due to not having service for a few days. We talked about how he was doing and what my expectations for the race were. As we were saying our good byes and making plans of when I would call him to tell him how things went he said “Do this one for me son” man how could I let him down? I’m not going to lie it hit home and I cried like a baby all the way to Jeff’s house. I pulled it together just in time to pick him up. We headed out and made it with enough time to eat the pre-race meal, do packet pick up and listen to the pre-race meeting. After the meeting we had another 12 or 13 miles to camp. We showed up in the dark and had to put out tents up and get the camp stove ready for the next morning. Once we had everything finished up we found Chris Thomas, who was running the 50 mile race the next morning, and we hung out around a bonfire until it was time for bed. I jumped into the tent and surprisingly went right to sleep. We planned to wake up at 5:15 AM the following morning with a 6:00 AM start time. I rolled out of the tent race morning to the sound of generators and laughter. The exact reason I wanted to run this race, great people and it’s super low key. Jeff and I made some of our world famous breakfast burritos, coffee and I drank a protein/glycogen shake. The 100 miles consisted of 4 loops each being 25 miles long. Jeff and I went over my game plan one more time. I wanted to complete loop 1 and 2 in 5 hours each and pray I could run the last 2 loops in 6 hours each. This would have me finishing close to 22 hours. I honestly didn’t know if I could possibly do this, but I’m a hard headed runner and knew I would leave everything I had on the trail.
Jeff and I walked to the start finish line and found the rest of the guys the crew. OMRR and the IRC were represented very well. Houston Wolfe and Chris Thomas both had their sights set on the 50 miler, and Jon Wilson, Eric Tripp and I all 3 were trying to tackle our first 100ers. We snapped a few pictures and got in line ready for a long day of single track trail. Jon and I started pretty far back in the pack. My plan going into the start was to eat so much that I couldn’t start to fast or it would hurt my belly. I need the calories and I didn’t want to do anything stupid early on. The clock rolled to 6 and the race started. I was blasting out a solid 16:00 pace early on. It took a few minutes, but the trail started to open up. Jon and I talked about life and the kiddoes for a few miles then I decided to pick it up just a little.
The rest areas were conveniently 5 miles apart, so I needed to hit each station in an hour and that would have me right on pace. I rolled into the first station feeling great. I had drunk a full hand held of Gatorade and the station works filled it as I grabbed some food and off I went. I knew I needed to drink 12 oz of Gatorade and take in approximately 200-250 calories every 5 miles to stay strong, so that’s what I did. Before I knew it I was finishing up lap 1. I was a little faster than expected, but I wasn’t pushing the pace so I wasn’t too worried about it. As I ran to the crew, I seen Jeff and Shane and they had my protein/glycogen ready and I slammed it while they filled my bottle and hydration pack. Jeff asked how I was doing and I think I said great, and off I went on loop 2.
Things kept going great so I didn’t change anything on this loop. Lots of Gatorade and food from the aid stations and I just clipped off mile by mile and before I knew it I was at the mile 45 station. I thought about skipping this aid station. I had plenty of water in my pack and some food left over. I was ready for my pacer to jump in. If you don’t know Jeff, he’s a running comedian/story teller/Karaoke singer. I did decide to make a quick stop knowing it was still very early in the race, but I made it a quick stop. This was the hardest part of the race for me. Knowing Jeff would be with me for the rest of the run was huge. He was my security blanket. I knew he had done this before and knew what to do if and when things started to go south. I finally finished the last 5 miles of loop 2, I was a little faster than I wanted again but again I was letting the race come to me and I hadn’t pushed the pace at all. Jeff and Shane were spot on again. Everything was ready for me to drink and I grabbed a few pieces of fruit and off we went.
I was a little worried about loop 3. I figured this would be the most difficult to maintain pace and nutrition, but every time I would start to hurt a little I could hear my dad say “Do this one for me son”. What I was going through was self-inflected, no one made me do it and in the bid scheme of things it really didn’t matter if I finished or if I did finish what my time was. Jeff knew exactly what to do and what to say when I needed it. I mean who doesn’t get fired up when a tall white dude is running in the woods singing This girl is on fire or busting out a little Beastie Boys? We took off super quick like 12:00 miles quick and as I thought Jeff made the miles fly by. We planned to run this lap in approximately 6 hours. My watch was dead and I was relying on Jeff to watch pace and mileage. About 2 times into the 3rd loop I asked Jeff what the distance was, and I hear of crap. I forgot to gain satellites and start the watch. We both just laughed, knowing in it really didn’t matter. It was a little comical watching Jeff run rock covered trails with his left arm straight up in the air trying to get satellites. Don’t act like you haven’t done this before. He had finally got everything rolling and ready as we ran into the first aid station of this lap. John Cash (Course record holder and winner of the race the past 2 years) He was trying to help Jeff fill his water bottle and Jeff was thinking he wanted to shake hands, so every time John reached out to Jeff for his bottle Jeff would shake his hand. I’m not sure how many times this happened before John said do you need any water dude? Those are the little things that make a race ☺. I don’t think we seen anyone other than aid station works for the next 20 miles, but that’s typical for races like this. We finished loop 3 and Shane was spot on with my drink and filling my Gatorade bottle and hydration vest. I slammed the drink and off I went. Starting my last loop.
Starting that last loop was a great feeling. I knew the next time I seen the start finish this journey would be completed. It was a huge boost and gave me a little energy that was needed. Jeff and I started knocking out mile after mile hour after hour and we started to lap people. Jeff is a freak and if he ever sees a light he subconsciously pushes the pace until you catch them. We passed several people and it made time go by a little faster. Everything was great until about mile 97 or 98 and I thought I could see a light gaining on us. I’m not sure exactly what I said to Jeff but the pace really picked up. It felt like he was pushing a 5k pace on the last climb and I was giving all I had to keep up. He made sure I gave everything I possibly could those last few miles. We finally could hear the crowd and generators running. Jeff started hooting and hollering to make sure everyone in 3 counties knew I was coming in. I can’t explain how awesome it felt to cross that finish line. All of the training, family sacrifices and time that gets put into a race like this is crazy. It’s not just the person running the race either. Jeff sacrificed lots of hours to run with me and crew for me, David took calls and answered stupid questions for months and Shane was there for anything we could possibly need.
I will never be able to repay you guys for everything you did making sure I was ready for the race and making sure I was good on race day.
Derek finished in 20 hours 19 minutes securing a coveted sub 24 hour finish and 1st place overall at the 2014 Mark Twain 100. Not bad for his first attempt. The IRC is proud of his accomplishment but we are more proud of the character and humility he shows to other runners. This type of behavior, while common among many members of the IRC, is not something we see enough of on the trails, roads or through social media. Congrats to you Mr. Glos - your future is bright. Thanks for bringing us along on the journey.
In December of 2013, three Idiots started kicking around the idea of running in a new 82-mile relay called KT82. It started from St. Charles, MO and went to Hermann, MO largely along the Katy Trail. There was an option to do it as a 6-person or 3-person team to cover the 18 legs of the race. Sure, it was a big commitment, but it felt like spring would never get here much less August 30th. The answer was an easy "yea why not... I think....82miles... gulp".
Some quick math showed that the distance per person would be roughly 27 miles for the day on a 3-man team. There are plenty of ultra runners in the IRC that might think 82 miles solo is a piece of cake. Our team was not made up of seasoned ultra runners.
At this point in our story, between the three of us we had run exactly zero 20 mile runs. None of us had ever run a relay race before. The logical thing to do was to find three more people and do the 6-person. Being Idiots, we decided to do the 3-person option. Go big or go home, right?
We were fortunate enough to get picked in the lottery for a spot in the event. Over 400 teams applied for one of the 200 spots. Now it was officially on – we had to figure out how to run 82 miles in a day as a team.
Of course after we were signed up and paid in full, we start hearing lovely things from people like, “Running the Katy Trail is pure mental terrorism,” or, “That running surface is nasty and will kick your butt.” Sounds fantastic!
Some research on the legs proved that no one got a free lunch with their position on the team. Runner #1 got over 31 miles on his shoes for the day. Runners #2 & #3 got some gnarly single track trails full of rollers and tree roots, not to mention their legs coming home were longer.
Fast forward through all of the logistics and planning that is required to race day. Yes, planning is important to these events, but it is also boring to read about. The most important thing we had going for us from a planning perspective was Jason – our full time driver that wasn’t running the race.
Jason was our hero. He didn't run. He didn’t really know two of the three of us all that well or at all. He did it to help us out and see what kind of trouble we had gotten ourselves into, and his positive attitude was there for us constantly. It was a huge help for none of the runners to have to deal with driving these small gravel roads in God’s Country, especially since a 3-person team left little down time in between runs.
On race day our starting time was based on the estimated paces we turned in during sign up, and we were a little nervous. We had no idea how much or little recovery we would get when we weren’t running. Could we actually run the paces we turned in? If we went too slowly, we were destined for the sag wagon. Too fast and we’re going to burn out before the end.
Shortly after arriving at the starting line, it became abundantly clear that we were in the minority regarding the number of runners per team. We just weren't seeing other 3-man teams. None. Clearly we were living up to our team name of "3 Idiots". During that "oh crap" realization moment (that was never whispered or spoken aloud), we took a breath and trusted our training would get us to mile 82. Jokes were made like, "Drive fast or I'll beat you to the exchange point". We chose to have fun with the day instead of fearing failure.
Our pact going in was simple: don't get mad at one another no matter how things would shake out during race day. Sounded good in theory, but time would tell how true we were to our word. Three smelly runners and one patient driver stuck in a truck all day long. Three runners that each had to pull off daily distance PR's to complete the race. There were bound to be logistical issues with this being the first time the event was hosted. The potential for anger and frustration were real, but we were not going to let it happen. Besides drinking water and not dying, we had to keep smiling too.
Here was the key to the relay going really well. We truly enjoyed each other's company. We might not medal in this race, but we didn't care. We were going to give it everything we had for ourselves and the team. The support and encouragement through the day from our teammates was awesome. It truly did feel like a team all day long. That was critical.
During the run we used a basic rotation of responsibilities. One runner took the handoff and headed out. The other teammate mother-henned the poor sap who just finished. "You need to eat." "When have you last had salt?" "Tell me what you need and I'll get it." The guy that just completed his run got in the back seat and did what he had to do for himself. The fresh person then rode shotgun, helped the driver navigate, and got focused on taking the next exchange.
The great part of the relay experience was definitely the exchange points. It felt like a mini finish line over and over all day long. The runner seeing the cluster of parked vans, tents and cheering runners on the horizon. The two other teammates seeing their friend pop into view in that shirt color your eyes were straining to see. Screaming at the guy coming in to keep kicking just a few more yards. Being surrounded by good folks going throughout the same thing we were. It got us fired up time and again for over 12 hours.
At the exchange moment, the individual taking on the next leg made it a point to offer support and gratitude for what their fellow runner had just accomplished. Sure, we could have grabbed the baton and taken off like a bat out of hell, but it was about so much more than the run. It was about letting your teammate know that you were grateful for what he went through to get that baton into your hand. Running away from your two teammates and driver, you felt obligated to run your heart out and put that baton in the next person's hand.
We absolutely respected the distance going in, but those breaks while waiting for your next go of it were not bouncing us back like we thought they might. Heart rates were not dropping as low in between runs as we guessed. Methodical bouts of foam rolling, fueling and hydrating could only do so much. The really fast teams that started late in the morning were flying past us like it was a 5k now, and we were getting tired.
It got hot. The breeze got still. Water got low. Legs got heavy. The Katy Trail seemed to go on to infinity with no end in sight. Still, knowing those guys were waiting for you down the road was such a different motivator than just trying to get to a finish line solo. Slow down. Take a little walk in some rare shade. Do whatever you have to do to get to the next exchange.
The next thing we knew our last leg was in front of us. Less than three miles to go, and we were all smiles.
In Hermann we met our anchor runner about a quarter mile from the finish to run across the line together. Every team did it, but it never got old watching the smiles and fist pumps as teams completed their runs.
It was something special to cross the finish line with teammates that share a passion for running but more importantly care enough to leave it all out there for their team. We loved it, wouldn't trade it, and accept that we will never have the opportunity to live that day like we did ever again. You only get to do something for the first time once.
In the end there were 183 teams that showed up that morning and ran the race. Only 15 teams ran it as a 3-person team. Our little squad that had never run a 20-miler before we signed up managed to put up a time better than half of the 6-person teams.
3 Idiots? You're absolutely right we are.
Once upon a time there was a dude that wanted to lose weight. He was out of shape and honest enough to know it. So on a cold January day in 2006 he embarked on a one mile run. It was slow and painful, he wanted to quit after the first 100 yards but he kept going. After a mere quarter of a mile he was huffing and puffing. At the halfway point he was gasping for air and mumbling to himself. By three quarters of a mile his side was hurting and he could see the light, hear the angels singing and knew that this was the biggest mistake of his life. Oddly enough, our hero did not die on that deserted county road. As he sat hunched over gasping for air, begging for water and wiping the sweat out of his eyes he suddenly felt a burst of pride and accomplishment knowing that he had just pushed himself past the point of comfortable and into another zone reserved for those that want to finish what they start despite the overwhelming desire and temptation to stop. He understood that if he quit that day he would never reach his goals.
This sounds like a dude that I can admire and want to emulate. His passion, dedication and competitive spirit are exactly the characteristics that I have often strived for. That never die, never quit, focus and finish what you start attitude has always been something that I have believed in. That day, January 16th, 2006 changed my life in many ways. I took the first painful steps in my “running journey” but it was also the first phase of my evolution into a different outlook on many things in life. As a runner, and a person, I have taken many different approaches and looked upon situations with new perspectives. I’m less judgmental as a person now but I’m also more demanding and expect more from people. Probably the person I expect the most from, at all times, is myself. It’s part of the game, I guess, to be your own harshest critic and question your effort and motivation at every aspect of life. Confidence in ability has a lot to do with it but most of it boils down to feelings of personal insecurity that can only be overcome by a strong resolve to work hard and do your best at every goal set.
I never dreamed that my biggest failure in running would translate into my biggest success. Sounds insane when I say it. Looks insane as I write it. It probably is insane but I have never felt more refreshed, free and focused as I do in the aftermath of dropping from the Leadville 100 miler. It was the easiest decision I have ever made when it comes to running. I have had some decent success in running events and days when the moon and stars aligned just right to make it a “perfect” day. I’ve also been on some real death marches where each mile seemed to stretch on forever and injuries, poor nutrition, inadequate hydration and lows that made me question everything have completely destroyed my ego. Opposite ends of the spectrum but the one commonality is that I ALWAYS finished what I started. Marathons with pneumonia, 50 milers with a knee the size of a football, 100 milers in the rain, ice and humidity so thick it was like running through Jello. Nothing had ever clouded my focus and desire to finish with the best time the day and course would offer.
The Leadville 100 miler is an old and legendary race. This was the 32nd year of the historic event and I had a bib, running shoes and a headlamp. I had everything I needed to knock out an easy 100, grab a buckle and go drink some beer at the finish line. Almost everything. Ultras, 100 milers specifically, are a mental game that requires focus, dedication and that old “Eye on the Prize” attitude. Without those tools there is no way to be successful. You have to want it, really want it- not just say you want it, or nothing good will happen. The day will be long and miserable, the night, if you are lucky enough to last that long, will destroy your will to continue and drag your ego into a deep dark place that is difficult to recover from. Physically it’s just another 100 miler and it will beat up your body, like they all do, but mentally it will destroy you.
My Leadville adventure started in January. I signed up on the first day to ensure a slot at the urging of my friend Jim Lane. This was his dream race and it was to be his first 100 miler. I wasn’t too excited, mainly because my focus was on the upcoming Rocky Raccoon 100, but signed up anyway. Rocky turned out differently than I had hoped, coming in 3 hours slower than I had anticipated, and I found myself in a bit of post race funk. In March I suffered an injury at a 30 hour endurance run in Enid, Oklahoma which left me sidelined for a couple of months. My funk was prolonged and my focus on Leadville became non-existent. It was tough to get back into the grind of training and the typical 80-100 plus mile weeks just didn’t happen. It became very easy to look for an excuse to skip a run or strength workout where in the past I always found a reason to get it done.
I told myself over and over that I still wanted to run Leadville but, looking back, it’s easy to see that my focus wasn’t there. The early morning runs became less frequent and the weekend “binges” of long miles became a thing of the past. Coach Jeff laid out a great training plan but I chose to ignore it and use every excuse I could grasp to justify. So many times I would laugh and think, “I still have time, my base is great and it’s only 100 miles. I can fake it if needed.” Well…. time ran out and some things are hard to fake.
I was prepared for the altitude. I mean, I was prepared to expect it to be a little more difficult to breathe and honestly, that wasn’t much of a problem. What surprised me was the dry air that seemed to suck every drop of water from my body and just how HOT the sun would feel at higher elevations. Of course, any genius with access to a computer could have googled some of this information but I am far from genius on any IQ scale. I ran out of water early in the race, didn’t properly prepare by having a hat or sunglasses and didn’t bother with electrolyte pills and skipped the aid station food because it didn’t appeal to me at the time. All of these are rookie mistakes that a seasoned ultra-runner doesn’t make. Unless they are arrogant and foolish. I am not a rookie but I do qualify for the latter.
The trails were beautiful and completely runnable. The inclines were easily walked and enjoyable but then again… I never made it to Hope Pass. The weather was perfect, it was hot but only because I was overdressed and didn’t have a good understanding of the local climate. My cardio was good but my courage was not. By mile 20 I knew that I was done. Any chance of a decent finish time was long gone and while I wasn’t “dehydrated” I was very much behind. Nothing that couldn’t be overcome physically but mentally I was done. I started walking more frequently and thought about dropping at the mile 23 aid station but decided to continue on and see what the day would bring. Around mile 25, Jim passed me and I told him that I had a decision to make. In retrospect, it’s easy to see that the decision was made long before I lined up at the starting line.
As I walked and shuffled through the next 15 miles, I tried to find a reason to continue and finish the race. It just wasn’t happening. I kept coming back to the same thoughts, “I don’t want to be out here for 28-30 hours. I don’t want to be beat up for two weeks. I don’t want a buckle that I will always look at and feel like I didn’t earn.” These thoughts solidified my resolve to quit. I was going to violate the Idiots Running Club Oath - the oath that I wrote - and just quit. I was going to “earn” my first DNF and I was okay with that. Once I came to terms and accepted the facts for what they were a peace came over me and it was like the weight of the world was lifted. I was going to quit. And it was going to be okay. The world would not explode, children would still have christmas and life would continue on.
I took a minute to call my wife and let her know. That was more difficult. Telling somebody you love, the one person that always has your back and supports all this nonsense, that it’s time to pull the plug makes it real. I cried like a baby, not because I was sad but because I was trying to explain to her something that I really didn’t understand. Naturally she assumed I was hurt and not telling her. Yes, that is something that I would do and have done. But not this time. I remember her asking, “So… you’re NOT hurt but you are quitting? I don’t understand……” It was tough because I didn’t really understand either but I knew in my heart that it was the right thing for me to do.
As I came in to the Twin Lakes aid station, Chris Oles was waiting on the trail. Chris had drove up from Texas the day before to pace/crew for me. It was a big deal to me that he would do this. His friendship is something I value and the respect I have for him as a person and ultra runner is very high. Immediately I felt that I had let him down, wasted his time and selfishly screwed up his weekend. He didn’t care about all that. He just hugged me, smiled and told me that he was glad I was okay. My time had slipped to a point where the cutoff was approaching and he had assumed that I was injured or mauled by a bear. That is something I will take with me as I continue my journey - the character and friendship that he showed in that moment is something that I will strive for.
I hit the aid station at exactly 10 hours, which is the cutoff time to continue, and the race officials gave me the option of continuing. I was done. I looked at Coach Jeff and before I could reply he simply said, “Murph- let’s go drink some beer.” Was he reading my mind? Sometimes I wonder about him. I turned in my bib and timing chip and then went to “face the music” of all the crew members and supporters that had showed up. We had several IRC and PRS teammates running and the support was unbelievable. Runners from all over had come to cheer us on and help out. I was expecting looks of disappointment but all I received were pats on the backs, hugs and fist bumps. Ellen Losew had made the trip from Kansas to pace me during the late miles but my decision put an end to that plan. Once again, I was humbled by character and friendship. Runners are weird but very cool and compassionate.
So with my day over, I decided to go check on Jim who was making his way over Hope Pass. Jeff and I went to the Winfield aid station and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally we were notified that Jim had missed the cut off on top of Hope Pass and was turned back down the mountain to Twin Lakes. This made my heart sink because I knew how bad he wanted this race. Unlike me, Jim had worked his ass off in training and truly had focus. I would have given anything to see him get that buckle but I know he will be back to earn one. No doubt in my mind.
While we were at Winfield, Justin McCune came through and was looking like a man on a mission. I tried to help him as much as I could without getting in the way of his crew. He didn’t waste much time and quickly headed to the difficult climb back over Hope Pass. I seen Justin one more time back at Twin Lakes. He was still looking strong and picked up a new pacer, Kerri, to lead him through the night. It was getting cold and since I had a bag full of warm clothes and was obviously not going to be needing them I begged him to at least take a warm shirt and some extra gloves that I had. Runners are stubborn but he finally agreed and was off. I got the report later that he had dropped around mile 72. Another heart breaker for me because he was also a guy that was focused through training and had been dreaming of the buckle. Again, no doubt that he will be return with success.
Chris and I spent the rest of the night tracking Jeff Jones, a phenomenal ultra runner and friend, along with his pacer Derek Glos. We managed to talk to them at mile 76 and they were tired, cold and basically beat up. But one look at Jeff and it was obvious that he was still in control and very much on top of the mental games that come with the late miles of a 100. I have been fortunate enough to pace him for the final 25 miles of a 100 and knew, without a doubt, that his resolve to finish would not fade. He is a tough dude that truly keeps his “Eye on the Prize”. He crossed the finish line in just over 27 hours and made us all proud.
I look back and see so many good things that happened that day. Jim and Justin both pushed themselves to the limit, leaving nothing on the course and able to walk away with their heads held high. Jeff’s perseverance and desire to conquer the mountains left me in awe. I have nothing but respect for the effort all three of these individuals put forth in Leadville. It is an honor and a privilege to include them and everybody that came out to support as my friends.
As far as my own personal feelings. I am good. I am free. The monkey is off my back. I don’t know how many people were tracking online during the race but I’m sure there were at least 2 or 3. Back when that dude ran one mile in 2006, there was no way that he could have handled to “humiliation” of failure on such a big stage. That is one characteristic that I am happy not to own in 2014. I have learned that it’s okay to have a bad day, a bad training cycle, to admit when enough is enough and to let people know that I’m not really from planet Krypton. I’m human and I can find success in the midst of failure. It’s a humbling realization to know that coming up short isn’t the end - it’s just another step in journey. I’ll go back to Leadville one day but it won’t happen without proper preparation and focus. For now…. I’m just going to run, smile, drink water and not die for a while.
Adventures and Races Submitted by Idiots