Before I started writing about Saturday's long run I luckily payed enough attention to notice that a couple people were already blogging about their hard-fought battles up on the Superior Hiking Trail. One of the Ultra runner's I follow, Matt Patten, left a brief excerpt announcing he had DNF'd at mile 62. Matt doesn't know me but he was one of the first people to respond to my mundane emails and requests for Ultra info after joining MNDRS a couple years back and most recently as I near my first Ultra. So of course I was in his corner this weekend and sorry to hear he had DNF'd at mile 62. Thank God I read about his effort before I started whining about my own at Murphy. To me, for anyone to train for and attempt a race of that distance is nothing less than inspiring. Again I don't know Matt and he hasn't said a ton about the experience yet, but he seemed pretty level-headed about where he checked out on the Sawtooth course.
Certainly no one here knows ME, but if you did, you'd know how much I favor the "underdog" or any person or group attempting a task that most people think they are unlikely to acheive. I always favor the underdog in the Superbowl (I usually lose money too), I love reading about the battles that by all practical convention should have been lost and especially the battles that were lost but survived.
Obviously I'm not implying that Matt was not likely to succeed or that he was the underdog in the Sawtooth 2009 Saga. He was just as capable of succeeding as anyone that showed up. What I am attempting to point out is the moving spirit of the person brave enough to take the first step towards an effort the likes of Sawtooth. In other areas of my life I have learned this: As hard as we may be on ourselves about our own performance, traits or qualities there is ALWAYS someone- a child, friend, co-worker or a total stranger- that may be inspired by what we have done. Somebody believes that something each of us has done is bold, brave or inconceivable even when by our own measure we have come up short of our personal ideals or goals. I find that not only moving but also a good reason to be gracious and humble. Our efforts could make others think something is possible. Running 100 miles? Seeking religion? Attending college? Sobriety? Who the hell knows.
There are other Ultra battles that have moved me this year including SteveQ's stand at the Lean horse 100. And there HE was giving his best effort to other runners as a volunteer on the SHT this weekend. Amazing. Although it sounded as though Steve took Lean Horse pretty hard, Steve, Matt and all the other Ultra runners who have shown up this summer must know that their efforts inspire others to believe something inconceivable is possible.
So, I'll save the whining about my personal struggles this weekend for another post and dedicate this one soley to those who inspire. Thanks to everyone who ran and volunteered on the SHT this weekend. Great effort.