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December 5, 2013 Comments (4) inspiration, Musings, Training

“A Muerte”

For rock climbers, a muerte means to exceed abilities and go beyond the ‘climb or die’ mentality. Perhaps adopted from the English translation of a Spanish war cry, “To the death!” a muerte embodies the nature and lifestyle of pushing limits. What began as a sentiment among elite climbers in Spain is now a staple in climbing lingo. It is the good luck, the job well done, and the training mantra for climbers worldwide.

This concept, “to the death,” is something I’ve pondered on recent runs. While it is not uncommon for ultrarunners to push themselves to the point of hospitalization (or literally, to the death), this is not what the phrase means. Instead it’s a “go for it” attitude, resolving to make the most out of each training session, each race, each line. Do we as ultrarunners seek for this highest standard of ourselves, of our running, with the a muerte attitude? Do I?

Author on Corporate Greed - 5.9 in Lime Creek, Colorado

Author on Corporate Greed – 5.9 in Lime Creek, Colorado


The hardest part of ultrarunning is the ongoing realization that the adjective “impossible” is only a past participle, a descriptive verb of something we thought we couldn’t do until we did it. We get this addictive realization every time we race, run, and push ourselves. With training, with passion, with hard work, the results are even better—A MUERTE!

Plans for next year are in the mix. It seems the 2014 running schedule is the hot topic of every group run and the base of every running club Facebook thread. “Who’s in the Western States lottery?” “Where should we travel to next summer for a group adventure run?” “Hey, have you heard of Barkley?”

I’m making my tick list for 2014. My goals are being prioritized, organized into their prospective months, much like we methodically pack our drop bags and organize our running lives into little labeled zip-loc bags. But a new resolution is embedded into my brain, a new unbridled hope for the 2014 year—a muerte!

Running the White Rim Trail near Moab, Utah

Running the White Rim Trail near Moab, Utah


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

As you contemplate your dreams for next year, consider going for whatever it is that you think may be just out of reach. Be it a distance, a race, or just a long adventure run—exceed your abilities. Run as a celebration pushing the hardest, going the longest, and enjoying it the most. So, 2014—a muerte! “To the death!”

Heartbreaker 5.10d in City of Rocks, Idaho

Heartbreaker 5.10d in City of Rocks, Idaho

Be sure to check out  Jennilyns blog for more of her writing.

4 Responses to “A Muerte”

  1. Jen says:

    You are inspiring as always, Jennilyn!

  2. esef says:

    Only a fool would toss around the word Barkley as a “hey that sounds fun” event.

    This sport will and should eat itself, so the masses back the hell up and stick to their 5ks and half marathons. There’s too much quaint talk about ultras which is completely false. They are hard and should not be taken lightly. Now go back to your TV’s and treadmills human.

  3. MattWilliams says:

    I am fairly certain that nearly EVERY conversation about Barkley begins with “Hey, have you heard of Barkley?”. Everyone that has knows that it IS that crazy, and those that haven’t will now (having answered “no”) get to hear all about just how hard it is. Didn’t see anything about that being a “hey that sounds fun” event.
    You are right, Ultras are hard and shouldn’t be (and generally aren’t) taken lightly – but the reality is that more and more people are doing them because THEY CAN. While some of the elites are indeed pulling off near superhuman efforts, the true beauty of the ultra movement is that people are realizing that they, mere “humans” as you put it, are actually capable of doing amazing things. I for one will embrace that desire in anyone that is willing to put it out there to accomplish their goal.
    If more people running ultras make it somehow seem less special for you, I am truly sorry.

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