She came to me after running 100 miles, with a sparkly headband adorning her oversized trucker hat. At this point, Tara was in the lead for women of the Fat Dog 120, an epic long ultra race in Manning Park, BC, a land of dramatic mountains and amazing trails that go on forever.
Tara had been leading the race for about 80 miles, and she had barely stopped at aid stations. It was double her longest distance run to date and one of the hottest days of the year, but that didn’t show through. She was getting this thing done, in a big way.
Tara’s race (she eventually finished 2nd after an awesome comeback by Angela Shartel) was a major part of my sense of awe this weekend. And the more I looked around, the more inspiration there was to be had. Driving around as crew, I felt so much love from all the people who had gathered to support the runners. It was inspiring to think that these people came from all over to support this dream; of running as far and as fast as our imagination through the forest. During my pacing duty, I got to meet volunteers who hiked gallons of water miles straight up to the aid stations in the Skyline section. When I met them, they were sitting merrily in a swarm of flies, so thick that I had to dance to Usher (Yeah!) keep the flies off. (Okay fine, I wanted to dance, anyway.)
Aid station volunteers manned their stations for the entire weekend, and many of them sacrificed sleep to run their little forest oasis, making amazing burritos, broth, and other delicacies for runners. (And even pacers! Thank you Lori!) Then there was Linda Barton-Robbins and her being an awesome mom for her toddler while also running the race! And at the finish line, I met runners who had completed the course and other runs like it, who were more than double my age. One of these men was planning to run Cascade Crest in two weeks’ time! Aside from these moments, there was this energy and intensity from staring up at the menacing peaks of Hozomeen Mountain, or down at Ross Lake– which is so huge & great that it cannot be contained by international borders, or over the entire Cascade mountain range through meadows of wildflowers.
Thank you, Fat Dog– everyone who took part, for giving us an adventure to inspire, and to be inspired. Congrats to all you runners who achieved something incredible out there. (Tory, Hilary, Linda!) At the end of the day, I think these races are an amazing way to demonstrate the best qualities of humans: compassion, work ethic & determination, appreciation of the natural world, and sacrifice for a greater good.