Friday, June 6, 2014

A Hundred Mile Poem

Wake before the dawn in the cool morning of race day

Converge upon the trail head to meet with friends and shed the pre-race jitteriness away

The race starts slowly with a lack of fan fare

The nervous energy of the field quickly fills with somberness in the air

As runners collectively realize they have over 99 miles left to cover

And fret about what the next 24-36 some odd hours may yet uncover

Crowded on the singe track trails, and waiting for spacing, runners trade tips and idle chatter

In the words of Karl Meltzer, the race doesn't begin till mile 70, so what does it matter

The first 6 hours almost seems surreal in it's ease

As cool morning temperatures and strong legs leads many to be naive

Of the upcoming struggle under the full intensity of the Sun

That reduces even the most experienced down to only something vaguely resembling a run

Thoughts of quitting starts creeping into the mind

As fatigue, heat, and tough climbs escalates with the increasing time

Runners find inspiration to keep moving wherever it can be found

But they need not look so far as every step brings gorgeous views of the trails and nature abound

Keep toiling forward as aid volunteers and crews encourage

The Sun will soon set, now is not the time to be discouraged 

Now that the Sun and heat has started to die down

New life in our legs and second winds are suddenly found

Runners pick up the pace to take advantage of what little daylight is left

For when night falls new challenges presents itself

Rocks and roots suddenly grows bigger in the night

While their shadows are seemingly dancing under your headlamps light

Hills and Mountains become never ending with their peaks amiss

And climbing them can seem like a stairway towards the dark abyss

The mind starts to play tricks after countless miles and many hours in the dark

Of hallucinations of Monsters and Bears lurking amongst the shadows of every tree and large rock

For every runner who's lucky enough to have a pacer to help keep their minds occupied

There's another solo runner battling against their doubts and demons with their sanity half compromised

Aid Stations become brief oasis of light and life during the dead of night

Juxtaposed against scenes of weary, sleep deprived, and injured runners contemplating giving up the fight

For those brave few who choose to carry on

Just hang on a little bit longer for the giver of light to bring about the Dawn

The night sky of twinkly stars begins to fade

The great ball of fire starts to ascend, as you prayed

Just for a moment all aches and pains and fatigue subsides 

As you experience a rebirth like no other while bathed in the morning's first light

With renewed energy and purpose, you press on with determination

The absolute worse is now over, reviving your motivation

You may have survived the night, but don't get too cocky

There are still many miles left to go, and making cutoffs may get spotty

Fatigue and pain of which you have rarely known 

Has accrued exponentially over the last 80-90 miles that has cruelly sown

When every footfall adds ever more to the growing list of aches and pain

And every small hill becomes Mountains that you have to fight for every gain

Common sense and brief moments of sanity urges you to quit

But you’ve come too far and stubbornly go forward just to spite it

The last few miles of the trails are littered with the broken bodies of the walking wounded

As you past your fellow trail brothers and sisters, you are both encouraged and silently saluted 

All the day's many struggles are suddenly forgotten, for now, the end is truly in sight

Even if you have to crawl up that last Mountain, there are no more thoughts of giving up the fight

During the last mile your legs experiences a phenomenon

Against all reason, it suddenly springs to life as you begin to smell the barn

You wonder in which dark hole your legs may have been hiding in for the last 20 miles

But no matter, at least you get to finish strong and with a gigantic smile

At the finish, collapse into the arms of your family and friends or a well deserved chair

Marvel at how you managed to slog through a 100 miles with only a few hours or minutes to spare

The Race Director comes by to greet you with a firm handshake and the coveted 100 Mile Buckle

As you excitedly share tales at the finish line of epic struggles and a few chuckles

Two weeks later your body still hasn’t forgiven you

While you’re back on UltraSignup, searching for the next 100 Miler to squeak through

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