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Ultra Racing

On our kitchen counter is a framed quote that Judy and I like to reflect upon:


"You are stronger than you think you are.

You can do more than you think you can."


This is by Ken Klouber, the director of the Leadville 100 ultra race. 


I've been to Leadville, Colorado fly fishing in the Arkansas River and Crystal Lake. The air is thinner above 10,000 feet and the terrane is harsh, which makes the Leadville 100 one of the most daunting and daring ultra races in the world.  You can read about the race in a wonderful book--"Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall.


Our son, Kevin, is an ultra runner. He sent us the quote a few years ago when Judy was going through her second knee replacement on her left knee. It's called a revision. You would think that the second time around would be easier. It's not. The surgery is more complicated and takes longer, and the recovery is more challenging. The quote helped her at the time, and we've kept it on our counter ever since.


I've been able to get acquainted with the sub-culture of ultra racing through my son.  It's a wonderful community.  A few years ago, he ran his first ultra race--the Arkansas Traveller 100 Miler. It wove through the national forest near Little Rock.  Judy and I were part of his crew.  We would meet him at the various check-in stations along the race with food, energy suppliants, and clothing.  Mostly though, we cheered him on.  He would only stop for a few minutes and then be on his way, as was the case with the other runners. What was cool though was how every runner was encouraged and supported to keep on keeping on.  There were shouts of "way to go!", clapping, and cow bell ringing as racers entered the stations.  Everyone was involved. Everyone counted.


I had an amazing experience that gave me a small sense of what the runners actually go through.


After 52 miles, runners were allowed to have a pacer--someone who would run along with them for a while.  At the 52-mile station, I asked Kevin if he would like me to pace him for the next 8-mile leg of the race, not really sure how far I might get. "Dad, that would be great."  So we set off. It was about 10:00 pm on a moonless, pitch black night.  We had head lamps that shown about a dozen feet in front of us.  We could follow the dirt trail by looking ahead to glow sticks that were hanging from branches of trees that formed a canopy over the trail. Run, jog, walk. Run, jog, walk. Over and over.  We made it to the next station together.  I was spent, and he went on to finish the other 40 miles of the race. As we talked after the race, he reminded me that I was stronger than I thought I was and did more than I thought I could.  Mainly, I think because he bolstered me as much as I tried to bolster him..


Well, we are all now in the ultra race of our lives.


While social distancing and isolation have been extended through April, we all know that the race to kick this asshole virus will be much longer than this. 


So, we need to pace each other, one and all, to keep on keeping on, however long the race might be.


After all, together, we are stronger than we think we are. We can do more than we think we can.


Good Health and Good Luck


Ray

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