What an experience…
May 02, 2010
The long day concluded Friday night with the final competitor making it across the finish line just after the sun had set at approximately 6:00pm! That's right. 36 hours after the start of the stage. Talk about grit and determination. Talk about a hero. Talk about refusing to quit. For a day and a half straight he had been out there fighting the elements, fighthing his body and fighting his mind as he crossed the moutains, river beds, plains and a dusty road that seemed to go on for eternity. Yet he managed to somehow get past the pain and reach a higher level. When he took that final step across the line he simply had nothing left. But the standing ovation he received at camp from his fellow competitors, the staff and the volunteers I'm sure made it worth the pain and suffering. His effort inspired us all.
People continually ask why would you do this to yourself? Are you insane/suicidal? Why wouldn't you rather just relax on the beach for vacation? But until you experience a journey like this firsthand and then take a step back to let it sink in then it's impossible to really understand. The highlight of the week again for me was the people I met, the remote territory we explored and the relationships I built. And if I'm proud of one thing...it's the fact that our entire tent finished the race and all eight of us received medals. We were the only tent to accomplish that and it wasn't just a coincidence. In fact there were several tents down to only one or two competitors by week's end. But we nursed each other through the tough times. When I was sick and delirious in the bush...when Paul was unconscious and unresponsive and very sick...when Ash was urinating blood...when Joey got massive sun poisioning and heat rash...when Tony was so blistered that he couldn't walk...we were there for each other. Supporting as much as we could but most importantly staying positive and encouraging and keeping an open ear. Each of us hit our individual breaking points this week, then we hit them again, then we hit them again, then we hit them again. Walking away would've been easy. But nothing great it easy. So we faught. And in the end I think we learned a little from one another. I know I learned a bunch from my brothers in tent #16. Limits are self-imposed and made to be broken. They're thrown around in conversation by people comfortable with the status quo, people who do what other people expect and people who are afraid of striving for more. They are not for people that attempt these races. They weren't for tent #16.
Saturday was a picture perfect ending to the race. The top guys who had locked up their positions decided to casually run it in so the rest of us had a chance to win the 5k sprint to the finish. I gave it everything I had. Went out running flat out and tried to hold it. Gasping for air from the third minute in I held the lead for about 2.25 miles. That's where Joel and Mehmet passed me. So as we approached the finish line I was in third. But like the great friend he is...Mehmet waited for me 100 yards out so we could come across the finish line together and hug it out after another awesome week of racing. So many people at the finish line going nuts and to run it flat out and leave zero in the tank after crossing made for a euphoric ending and an adrenaline rush that still hasn't worn off yet. We had a joyous awards cermenony last night with plenty of food, booze, pics, videos and laughs. And then we all parted ways.
Over the course of the week you're dreaming about anything you can to get your mind off the pain. Sleep, shower, lack of ticks, lack of ants, lack of pain, air condition, fresh wipes, MP3's, McDonald's, Papa Gino's, Coors Light, water cooler than your core body temperature, etc. But after finishing you realize those are all luxuries and aren't what matter most. It's those people that are there for you when you need it most. And that's what each of you were. So once again I want to sincerely thank you. I did a lot of talking about MAGIC and Luci and all the families out there and myself and the Endurance Trust guys have some really cool ideas going forward to continuing to spread the message. Look forward to sharing them in July!!!
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