There is no money to win, compared to other sports very little notoriety, yet for some reason annually over 2000 people actually are willing to pay a HEFTY amount to subject themselves to this kind of torture. Unfortunately, the race runs through the Granite Cheif wilderness and the man (aka government) has stipulated this to be a special place where no events can be held. However, this race and it's older brother the Tevis Cup horse race were grandfathered in and are allowed to be run at the same participation level they had when the wilderness act was made into law. For this race that means roughly a little over 400 people will have the opportunity to start the race.
If this is your first time hearing of people running 100 miles in a single effort you are probably thinking it's not possible. I know I did back when I first became aware of the race in 1995. I was watching a PBS special or something on these crazy people running through the
So upon watching the entire special in bewilderment I realized they only get 30 hours to be considered an official finisher, they do not sleep and I'm probably never going to be able to do it. Never going to be able to do it you ask? That's not a very positive attitude, but it's the one I was battling at the time, only weeks earlier I had an accident that left me stuck in bed with very little ability to walk. However, I made a promise to one day get to the start and see if I too could make it to the finish like those mega athletes I saw on the TV special.
In 1995 I was an Alpine Ski racer and I took a big fall at a downhill race. I had some talent in skiing but my real advantage was my work ethic. I worked myself in the gym, running and training like a dog. I was relentless in my efforts to make the Olympic team. I ended up busting my back up pretty good, to the point that the doctors I was seeing told me that skiing at a high level again was unlikely. I was probably not going get rid of the issues with walking I'd developed, and I’d need to reevaluate the activities I chose to participate in. I went to a couple of different doctors and they all said the same thing, feel fortunate you have what you have left it could have been so much worse. Basically glass half empty.....not exactly my mantra at the time.
What a shitty thing to tell an 18 year old whose entire life (and that of his family) revolved around athletics. I raced BMX from the age of 4 to 10, going to the US Nationals nearly every year. I ran track, x-country, wrestled and ski raced in high school, now I have to give everything that made me feel alive up to live a life of sedentary hell? You've had a great run kid, the fun is over now deal with your life sucking till you die...that's how I took it. Fuck that noise........
So what did I do? I went and tried to find a doctor who did not tell me those things, no small task given the litigious society we have in
It took about 6 months and I was back on skis, a year later I was competing in the same level of racing. From the outside it seamed as though I had worked my body back into great shape, and that was mostly true. However there are 2 aspects to an injury that one must recover from, the physical and the mental. I've always been physically tough, but some of the pain I experienced brought me to my knees and many a time I thought this just is not worth it. There would be times after doing simple push ups, I'd try to get up to stand and a pain would rush through my spine that hurt so bad I was paralyzed for seconds and would fall to the ground crying. Eventually that subsided and what I found out through that experience is the mental recovery is far tougher and takes far longer. Oh and that mentally....maybe I’m more bark than bite. The pain this experience caused me mentally would not be fully understood for a long time, even to this day I have issues thinking about it, and that's as far as we will delve into that.........
I spent the next 2 years trying to ski fast...it rarely worked. Every time I got to a point of almost being out of control (a line any skier must navigate expertly to be fast) my brain shut me down. Unfortunately I did not know this, it just happened. I thought I was truly physically broken, so I did what i aways did and worked harder. To my surprise nothing got better and without any reasonable way to get better I gave up.Quite simply something in my brain became a governor like they have on golf carts and it would not let me go fast. I became an average ski racer, and quite frankly upon realizing that, I lost my identity. If only I'd have realized at that point it was my brain and not my body that was broken.
I ended up skiing in college two years before the allure of making money overtook the competitive spirit I was so badly trying to hang on to. It was the day I finally hung up the ski boots that I lost my true competitive nature and my adolescent identity died. I've skied 1 time since 1999. I turned into a new man...some might say boy given some of the antics I pulled, but whatever I turned into I just never really liked it. I made one statement to myself that I will forever always regret.....I will NEVER again put everything I have into a single endeavor because I can not take this kind of failure ever again.
I'd finally succumbed to what I always hated....I just let life happen and was content to take what I was given. I was now a glass half empty kind of guy just like the doctors I swore off so many years ago. I spent the next several years spectating life, not really participating in it. I got my degree, went to work full time at an advertising agency and resigned myself to the fact I was going to be a desk jockey in a cubicle until I retire.
I stayed this way until 2004, and then as fortune would have it I ended up with a ticket to the Burning Man festival in