This weekend Matthew and I completed a 99 mile trail run with a group of running friends . Some of these running friends were people that we just met. That is just one of the joys of being part of this type of running event. You make friends quickly as part of a team of folks, that are up to the challenge of pushing themselves to extremes, that they weren’t sure they could complete before hand.
Our two teams were made up of the best sort of people. A variety of people. Some young and well, some of us not so young. Also a variety of grit and stamina. Most importantly these were groups of people eager to encourage and cheer for each other. Complete support was felt among not only our teams, but from all of the runners and all those volunteering their time to make the event possible.
As I said, we were part of a relay. The setting was at the beautiful Mendon Ponds, New York. After setting up our camp of tents and supplies, we joined many other teams in tackling three difficult loops through rugged trails. As a relay we ran one loop at a time. Exchanging our belt to the next runner, when we completed our loop.
As the title to this blog states, I am not a trail runner. Matthew and I are runners that run trails, but I now have a new and much different definition of a trail run. Yes, we have participated in the Adirondack Ragnar. That is a relay that is over twice as long as this trail race. However, the Ragnar is ran mainly along the side of the roads and highways. When there was a trail to run, it was a well groomed path between the roads.
The trails of the Mighty Mosquito 99 mile trail run are not for the weak. The colored flags lead up rocky but yet sandy and steep hills and across logs and down steep declines. At some points I felt like I couldn’t possibly still be on the right trail, but just at that moment I would see a comforting flag letting me know that the insanity continued.
Once we found our way through the finish of a loop we could change our clothes, or peel our clothes off and replenish with food and water and exchange our war stories of the adventure we just completed. As a team of six, we had a few hours between our legs of running. So we could relax and rest and enjoy .
I think that I am safe to say without permission, that the twelve members and two volunteers of our two teams, cherish our team’s captain. Whether Martha would like the title of captain or not, she is a true captain in every sense of the word. She is a crazy enthusiastic friend that is the definition of cheer leader. We tease her that it’s her fault that she gets us to join extreme events, but we are truly thankful that she does. Her joy filled belly laughs and giggles throughout the night kept us going, even when we felt close to being defeated.
I must talk about the simply amazing runners that were tackling this extremely challenging course as a solo runner and not a relay team. That meant that they were putting in the entire 99 miles on their own. Loop after crazy loop. Stopping in between loops for a bite of food and a fill up of their water packs and then back at it. Some of the participants of the relay went on to do loops with the solos after they completed their portion of the relay. Again, the support and encouragement of a running community is amazing, inspiring and a life lesson. These crazy solo runners push themselves to extremes that left the rest of us in awe. It certainly kept our complaints of minor scrapes, bug bites, bumps and bruises, down to a whisper.
When Martha bravely asked us yesterday morning, if we would consider this event for next year. My words back were, “One and done”…… However, Matthew and I came home pondering back and forth, how we could improve for next year. We would need better head lamps and better running shoes geared for the trails. We won’t be going into it as newbies, we will have the first one behind us. We will go back and do some training on those trails before we actually do the race.
Why yes, I guess we are trail runners and we are in for next year. Unless Martha finds something crazier to participate in sooner.
So my message to you in all of this is to push beyond your comfort. Find people that also want to push themselves and stretch their body and mind. Surround yourself with encouraging people and BE the encourager. Find out where your strength comes from. For me, my strength, my “help” comes from the Lord. Psalm 121:2 I’m so glad He put Martha in our lives. #marthamademedoit