running the 101 miles at Javelina Jundred a little over a week ago. Let me tell you something. I LOVE the grueling challenge and reward that comes from these ultramarathons. I LOVE running on trails surrounded by stunning scenery. But as much as I love those things, I also LOVE the people I've come to know out on the trails.
Hours and hours (or days and days) out on a trail with someone builds bonds more deeply than I've seen anywhere else. The Javelina Jundred felt like a big reunion and made this race so special to me. I'd like to share with you some of the wonderful people I spent time with over the weekend. Each of them played a part in helping me get to that finish line.
I spent more than 24 hours - more than 80 miles out on the trail with my amazing friend Catherine. I can't imagine how different my race would have been without her. This is Catherine with her awesome husband Kacey and mom Mary Ann.
We went to Target in Arizona one night. I was over looking at shirts when my son ran up and said "Dad! Some people recognized me and mom from your blog and want to meet you!" So great to meet Martin and Karen from St. Louis!
Very crazy but we were at Target getting groceries again the next day - and these two great women came up and said they read the blog and were in town for the race. Meet Jan and Linda from Seattle:
At packet pickup I met up with Maria Walton. Caballo Blanco was the center of the story in the book Born To Run. It was a shock when Caballo died while running on a trail last year. Maria was Caballo's girlfriend. It meant a lot to meet someone with such a personal connection to Caballo whose story first sparked my interest in ultras.
I got together with Tony Nguyen - also known as Endorphin Dude. Legend. His quote: "When life dealt me lemons, I mixed them up with Cytomax, took a shot of Gu and ran!"
On race morning I caught up with Emily from RunEMZ. She runs 24 hours on a treadmill for fun.
I can't count how many races or training runs I've done with Kelly Agnew from Slipping Slowly Into Pain. And his wife Jo is a PRO on crewing for a race. She could write a book on how to crew a race. Kelly got 8th place at the race!
And then the race started. Out on the course I talked with Jay Danek who worked the Jackass Junction aid station all sweltering day. Jay is author of the excellent book Got To Live. (You can read a review I wrote for the book HERE.) Jay and the rest of the race volunteers were beyond incredible.
After the first loop we arrived back at Jeadquarters and I had a chance to talk for a bit with Jimmy Dean Freeman. This guy is an ultrarunning motivational speaking wizard. He has got some awesome podcasts on Trail Runner Nation. I was happy to have some of his running mojo rub off on me.
In the middle of the sweltering desert I met Kit Brazier. We've been Facebook friends so it was nice to meet in person and have someone familiar to cheer for on the loops. She was having a rough day on the trail but every single time I saw her she was smiling and so positive. What a great example to everyone. Our world needs more people like Kit.
Me and Catherine were fortunate to have my friend Kristin pace us for 15 miles. Not only did Kristin help get us through the middle of the night but she stayed around for many, many hours afterward to see the race finish. How awesome.
And finally, my favorite people of all - my awesome family. My wife Mel and son Jackson volunteered all day and were there to support my race. I'm so thankful for them.
The people - the fellow runners and volunteers - are what really makes this sport so amazing. More than a feeling of competition, these races have a feeling of compassion and community. We are all there to help each other get to the finish line. This is why I love running.