The finalists are here! Last week we put the call out asking you to write about what you love about running trails and/or ultramarathons. We had so many fantastic posts, we may have been relegated to leg wrestling and straw pulling to determine the finalists…Okay, not really, but we did have a tough time whittling it down to just three!
Read them now and cast your vote in the comments below for the entry that is most deserving of the coveted Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Ultra Vest!
It’s a mother, daughter thing!
When I think about my trail running experiences, I forget about the cute New Balance shoes, the unmentionable places I have scars from rubbing Gu packages, and the gallon of blood lost to rocks, roots, and lovely blisters. Instead I think of my training partner: the person who introduced me to running and the one I can count on to push me when needed. She is the person who is on the trail along side of me on every run: my mother, Brenda Campbell. My mom is forty-six years old, has been a runner all my life, has run over 15 marathons and has just completed her first ultra-marathon. Without her, my love of running and introduction into ultra-running would never have happened. I evolved into the runner I am because of her encouragement, through each new “longest” distance, and running me into the finish of my first marathon. She is there every morning sharing the pre-run peanut butter and is there next to me on the couch during our 10thviewing of Unbreakable. My love of ultra-running surfaced through blogs, books, and fellow ultra-runners. When my mom decided to look into running her first ultra, we dove, or rather plunged into the world of Ultimate Direction vests, hydration packs, and Trail Runner Nation podcasts. We watched Anton Krupicka run through the High Country and followed devotedly to the IRunFar Twitter feed. Thanks to trailandultrarunning.com, we were introduced to the elite runners’ race reports, learning about S! Caps, and the importance of a good headlamp. As my mom’s ultra, the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile race in Wisconsin was three weeks away, my duty as pacer changed to participant. We ran every step together, discussing which of her pre-school students are her favorite this year at mile 15 and cursing the hills at mile 40. Though she twisted her knee and was reduced to a walk/run the last 3 miles, I met each step right along side her, supporting her to the end. During that race, our roles changed; I was the one guiding her, pushing when she wanted to stop, just like she was there two years ago pushing me during my first 8 mile run. I would never been a runner or an ultra-runner without her, and I cannot wait to continue onto the next trail with her by my side.
My mom and I after our first 50 mile ultra-marathon.
Us on our longest consecutive training runs.
An Ultimate Direction
In 2011 I thought of a way to kick start my life as I undertook a new job as a therapist working with people struggling from addiction and searching for a purpose in their lives. Having a history of addiction myself and being clean for 16 years I thought back on how I had done it. Through support and running I recalled the relationships built and spirituality found on the trails of the Wasatch Mountains that resulted in erasing addiction and replacing it with a more excellent way of life. I knew that if a non-runner like myself could become such, so could they.
I started a free community group called Addict II Athlete and it quickly gained momentum. As Head Coach of this remarkable team I began to witness the inner strength these Athletes developed as we put in miles on the trails together. After one challenging race, I asked one of our Athletes how hard the climb to Windy Pass was, toward the end of the Squaw Peak 50 Ultra. He replied, “It was hard, I wanted to quit, but then I thought about when I was sitting in the Utah State Prison for multiple DUI’s and how trapped I felt, and now, here I was on top of the world, free from prison and addiction. Yea, it was hard, but not impossible.”
Addict II Athlete’s vision is to assist these new Athletes in recovery from all addictions and get on the path of healing and achieving goals in what could be described as a new path in an Ultimate Direction. A brilliant name for a company that must have the same thought in giving the Athlete the best gear for their journey. When I was added to the trailandultrarunning.com group, I saw runners living the life Addict II Athlete is establishing for our new comers. From our first 5k two years ago to running the 2013 Badwater Ultra Marathon, these former addicts leave that life behind and become so much more.
For me the real accomplishment in ultra and trail running is experiencing the highest summits, longest stretches and the mental negotiating that proves we can do hard things. Even more inspiring is when you have a group of people others called drug addicts running alongside you because you know they can do hard things as well. Because nothing’s impossible…it just may take a bit longer.
Trail Running is like meatloaf
My mother-in-law makes some positively amazing meatloaf. I don’t know what’s in it and I don’t want to know. I like the mystery. (I can only assume that ingredients include a mixture of sunshine, rainbows, and unicorn sparkles.
Trail running is the same way. There are lots of little mysterious elements that make it so seriously wonderful. Allow me to transform myself into Martha Stewart (never mind, I’ll skip the prison time) and expound on three ingredients that make meatloaf, I mean trail and ultra running so awesome.
Sure, you can see some beautiful stuff running on the road. I mean those parked cars and miles of endless white line on asphalt are nice to look at. But there is nothing that can match the beauty of a trail weaving through the aspens or climbing to the top of a mesa and seeing the expanse of nature surrounding you.
Ingredient #2 – The Uncertainty Unlike the safe, predictability of road running, you never quite know what you’re going to get out on the trail. My mom’s meatloaf is not very good. And by “not very good” I mean – if you gave me the choice between eating a rusty radiator and mom’s meat loaf…..I’d choose the radiator. (I’m sorry mom. But you always taught us to be honest. Plus I’m trying to win aScott Jurek vest from Ultimate Direction here.)
I love this sport. And good meatloaf.
Congratulations to Cory – Entry #3 – for collecting the most votes!
Thanks to our three finalists and all those that entered for sharing their stories!