July 11, 2013

Impossible Horizons

The Hardrock 100 is this weekend. It is a race that does not call itself a race, insisting, rather, that it is a "run". Whatever the specific impetus, however, the goal is to transverse 100 miles of Colorado's San Juan mountains. You must climb and descend nearly 34,000 feet, topping out at just over 14,000.

That is hard to put into words both because I lack the experience and vocabulary and, even were those things not true, I don't think it's a thing to be comprehended. So this is a picture.

You do that, basically. You do that for for more than a day because only one person has ever done it in less than 24 hours, and he no longer competes, having retired in his mid-20s to go farm sweet potatoes because at that point, why the fuck not? 

But  I should also say that I don't know what I'm talking about. My ultra record is not good. Two 50Ks, two 50 milers. Two shit races, two ok races. I sorta paced a guy after a marathon and covered about 100K once, but I did a fair bit of sitting around and drinking Mountain Dew in the intervening hours. Also I should probably run a halfway decent marathon before I think about racing for 10 times as long (in terms of duration, not distance). 

And oh by the way, I live in Kansas. That probably matters.

But I also know that if I could magically do any race (or run, whatever) in the world, and do it well, it would be this one. Not Western States. Not Boston. Not the Olympic whatever distance. 

To be clear, I'm not stating this is a goal, per se, because I'm far too honest about the odds. This is somewhat like a 4th grade basketball player deciding he wants to play in the NBA. It's an obscenely hard race (or run, I know, I know) to get in to, requiring completion of a difficult mountain 100 to qualify, and then it's up to a random lottery. 

And did I mention that I live in Kansas? That I haven't covered 100 consecutive miles ever, and that 50 miles/kilometers has whipped my ass 50% of the time?

But just look at that picture. Imagine a view like that in every direction, endless vistas of jagged Earth, ad infinitum, and try to quell the desire to chase the horizon until your legs and spirit are either broken or as hard and eternal as the rocks they transverse. 

I don't know that that will resonate with you, but know that it does with me. I can't tell you why, other than that there is something within me that lusts after profoundly impractical and borderline impossible things. 

But whatever. That is a distant horizon, if not an outright mirage. There are more immediate and tangible running goals for this fall, which will be the subject of the next post. Short version: I have to make good on a promise that's more than two years old now. 


  1. Just reading your posts motivates me, yeesh.

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