Thursday, February 20, 2014

Leaving a lasting Legacy...and Ultrarunning

On the evening of 19 February--channel surfing versus the Sochi Olympics--I watched a PBS show about Easter Island in the South Pacific.  You've all seen the images of the carved heads:


[image credit PBS]

Well, we as Ultrarunners have the very same motivation: to leave something of ourselves behind for our descendants.  Whether it's a 100 miler buckle or the tales of races raced, we all want to achieve some form of immortality.  As I get older I think the answer is not in physical objects--Easter Island monoliths or Umstead buckles--but rather in the stories, in the lore of our existence.

For example, I can see my grandchildren talking about how Pappy ran 100 mile races (maybe the tale would be accompanied by a belt buckle, maybe not), much like the descendants of the Easter Island heads would talk about their ancestors).  I tell them tales of the run, the details about eating, drinking, repetitive loops, running and spilling your guts to strangers on the trail, of sunrises and sunsets, of headlamps, of low spots and high points, of all the collected experience that is trail running.

Today, real world, as I talk to these grandbabies, I focus on the magic of the race, how the physical challenge--well trained for--offers an opportunity unique in modern life, to go to the edge and see what you are made of physically and mentally.  How the race tests you, how the struggle lifts you, how the challenge elevates you a level that everyday people never see in everyday life.

Ultrarunning is a means of compressing a lifetime into 30 hours: a dawn, a day, a night, and another dawn.  A block of time that transcends time, that compresses and boils down the human experience into a discrete event.

An event that will change you forever, that will offer you insights into the real stuff of which you are made.

And coming through that constructed event will alter your mind-set, will forever change the way in which you regard the world.  For those miles of foot placed after foot, of roots and rocks and water. of struggles and effortless cruising, will prove to you that you are indeed alive.

And that you are a hero, in some small way, but a hero nonetheless.

No comments:

Post a Comment