Friday, April 6, 2012
Last week I was thinking about the typical, excessively long race reports and the common personality traits of endurance athletes that leads to the urge to write them. This week my thoughts drifted to my appreciation of those who love the sport but are of a fundamentally different breed. Shoulder Toucher for instance. For some reason he signed up for his first Ironman race a few years ago. Upon his return, people (who write volumes about their own races and voraciously dissect the experiences of others) wanted to know how it went. "Uh, the swim was ok, I got to mile 40 on the bike, and, uh, it was terrible dude." These days, after an OTCY, I know his recap will consist of entirely of 1) the identification of one of his ever expanding pool of informal rivals who was in the OTCY, 2) the admission of defeat to that rival or 3) "I crushed him!". Sparse. Exciting. Perfect.
Then there's Geronimo. The man lives for ultrayogging. Everyone who knows him is consistently amazed by the race schedule he lines up and then glides through with ease. Well, last weekend he took a 2nd crack at Barkleys and was defeated again. Darn. I was discussing with the Suffer Seeker his likely recap of the experience. Last year he injured his knee on the first loop and had to DNF. All I could pull out of him for a description of the legendarily difficult terrain was "Not so bad." Would he do it again? With a sly grin on his face, "I must." I've had the chance to pace him to the finish of a few 100s, and the thing that stands out is how completely unencumbered he is by the mental and physical challenges of the event. Facing and conquering those challenges is what is so intoxicating to many ultrayoggers (I think), but Geronimo seems oblivious to that. The guy is truly in his sanctuary out there. Could you make the race longer please, because he really only starts to find his groove around mile 92. A couple years ago he had signed up for the Brazil 135, but at the very last minute his visa was rejected and he was SOL. Undeterred, he contacted the race director at Arrowhead, who found a spot for him in that race the very next weekend. So. Training for 135 miles of sloppy muddy hills in the Brazilian summer, but instead showing up at the coldest spot in the nation (having never trained in cold) for 135 miles along snow mobile trails pulling a sled full of gear that he didn't know how to use. A race with a 60-70% DNF rate. There's a frickin' novel waiting to be written about such an experience! Well, we got his race report the following Wednesday, an e-mail titled "3rd overall in running" that contained a link to the results in the body. Yup.