I run this trail at least once a week and it ticks me off every time.
There it is…a shortcut. A shortcut on a trail!
I have never taken the shortcut. Why would I? Why would anyone?
Oh look, I’m out on a beautiful trail with the mountains in the background and the sun is shinning. I better take this shortcut and get back to my car, my house, my office – quicker.
The goal of running is to let go of the starting point. It could be your home or your office. Cut the leash that pulls you back to the responsibilities (good and bad) that will keep changing form until the day you take that last breath. Taking that shortcut is giving in. You’ve heard it before – No one has ever said I wish I had worked more or watched more TV on their deathbed.
Running for me is the hour I allow myself during the workday to shove work aside and do the physical activity I love most in the world. On the weekends I get lost for even longer. Talk about heaven.
I find that trail shortcut insulting. I just don’t get it. Any action that takes you away from something enjoyable or makes an enjoyable event shorter is beyond my comprehension.
It’s like leaving a Jason Aldean concert in the middle of the show so you can listen to his CD in the car.
It’s like interrupting your honeymoon night to watch Cinemax.
It’s like getting up from your first class seat on a flight and sitting in the bathroom.
Taking shortcuts on the trail or in life is a dangerous habit to start. Looking for the easy way out is not a good practice for an ultra runner. We’re the ones that take the long way around even if it means prolonging the suffering. It’s what makes us special. Running 100 miles changed me forever. When life gets tough for me I just think about those long nights where I wanted to drop to the dirt and die. I didn’t…and that is where the change took place.
If you’re reading this you are one of us, or maybe preparing to be one of us. The ultra world is amazing. Our heroes run among us and are humble. They get excited when they have a roof over their heads or find a great Mexican restaurant on the road. Sometimes our starting lines are duct tape in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere. We chase colored ribbons with our headlamps and pray we never run across a bear or mountain lion. We huddle around fires in the middle of nowhere at 2am eating soup and salty potatoes from a paper cup. We wear silly big belt buckles and have more scars than toenails. We wish one another a great race and we mean it.
One thing we don’t do is take shortcuts.