Thursday, April 16, 2015

What's harder than running an ultramarathon?

Last weekend, utterly exhausted and running on fumes, on the brink of tears and smelling like a mix of sweat, dirt and campfire... I said to myself ----

THIS. This is THE hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. 

And that's saying something.

Last weekend was the Zion 100. The Zion 100 is brutal. The Zion 100 is beyond beautiful. The Zion 100 is literally right in my backyard and after running the 100k option last year, I was on track to conquer my first 100 miler at this race. And then I got injured and my first 100 mile conquest was out of the question, at least temporarily.

Instead of running the race, I decided to volunteer to run an aid station. And not just any aid station, but THE mother of ALL aid stations. THE GOOSEBUMP.

From the top of Gooseberry Mesa. Runners started their ascent 1500 ft. below.
Runners from the 100 miler, 100k, and 50k distances would pass through this tiny oasis in the middle of the harsh high desert 2-3 times. The first time would be as they made the ascent to the top of Gooseberry Mesa, a 1500 ft. vertical climb (and most would top off during the 80+ mid-day swelter). Hundred-milers would pass through for their third time anywhere from 5:30 pm - 5:30am. In total we'd have close to 1000 impressions.

Selfies with some bad A$$ runners

I knew this would be a hard job. I just didn't expect it to be so much more than that. It was emotional, exhausting, exhilarating, amazing, rewarding, empowering, happy, sad, scary, emotional (worth saying twice), awesome, beyond tiring. Would I do it again? In a HEARTBEAT.

To the runners of the Zion 100 (or 100k, or 50k) Thank you! Every. Single. Runner.

I saw runners with smiles, runners in tears. I saw blisters the size of Gooseberry Mesa itself. I saw runners who kept going when every fiber of their being was telling them to just STOP. I saw them push through pain, sweat, pukes, shakes, aches, pains, and breakdowns. And then I'd see them again in 20 miles feeling amazing, enlightened, delirious, hungry, and ready to git'r done.

Every single one that I met, fed and watered -- ... you were all so unbelievably inspiring, gracious, kind, and incredible.

I think you are all rock stars!

Here are some other amazing people:

Me and one of my alltime fav runner bff's fast cory


Families, friends, pets, and strangers.. all who camped out and encouraged runners to keep on truckin. This is Mel and she rocked that monkey hat.

This dude was running the 100 miler but had to drop out after the Gooseberry ascent. He had such a wonderful, positive spirit! He is my hero!!!!

My wing-woman, Lisa. She kept me sane overnight :)

Awesome new friends who pitched in to help without even a hesitation.

Two of my favorite people, Jana and Alan, who also helped man this beast of an Aid Station (always with a smile)

Sunset over the mesa
Special thanks to the random people who just stepped in asking how they could help. And, to all of my very very awesome friends who spent hours helping and making sure the runners had everything they needed: Steve, Lisa, Megan, Nancy, Annie, Chris, Jana, Alan, Lorilie, Carrie, Craig, Chris (mama Gunn), Katie, Ben, Abby... can't thank you enough. Truly. xoxo

But seriously -- next time I'm just running the 100 miles. :)

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