Everyone knows the Olympics are on. I am as much a sucker for being glued to the TV at odd hours as most of us. I am cheering on my country, I am inspired by what the athletes are doing and I am amazed at the stories and dedication and lean bodies.
But also on my mind are another sort of more personal “Olympics” which has inspired me. We each have goals that we train, strive, challenge and better ourselves towards. Some of these goals are bigger than others. Last weekend when I was racing the great Mt. Washington GutBuster, I also met two guys (aka Project Talaria) with a goal. One of the runners I have met a few times before as he is often at our run clinic workouts. (And to clarify this I mean that he is there, and I see him go by: he is lapping me as we do hill or speed workouts). The other I met briefly the night before the race. Both are super dedicated, amazing athletes and great people. You can’t help but be infected by their enthusiasm.
Their goal has been set to running the Leadville 100 (miles, people) race in Colorado. As a runner, I see this race as an event of Olympic proportion: you don’t attempt this (or even sign up for it) without some determination, will, and strong knees (or high threshold to pain). The course is a “100-mile out-and-back course is in the midst of the Colorado Rockies. Low point, 9,200 feet; high point is Hope Pass, 12,600 feet. Majority is on forest trails with some mountain roads.”
They are raising money for the Live it! Love it! Foundation, which “provides outdoor recreation opportunities for the disabled.” They are passionate about this cause, as passionate as they are about running. For two guys training to run 100 miles, there’s got to be a lot of it.
I watched their video recap (click on the image above to see it) about what they’ve done and was inspired. They really are going to do it. They have trained and planned and suffered and dedicated themselves to a task. They are having fun, but I can only imagine that getting up at 2 a.m. to practice running six hours in the dark with a headlamp is not the easiest. Nor, probably, are ice baths, blisters, injuries, mental sufferings, logistics and fatigue. Think of your longest run and multiply all of it by 10, every time you go run.
Today, as Project Talaria gets closer to their goal date, I am inspired. Like watching Olympians on TV -athletes most of us have likely never met- we feel a connection. We want to support them in what they are doing, because they have inspired us to believe in them.
They are doing more than we thought possible of ourselves, because they are showing us that more is possible. Able-bodied or not, adventure and outdoor recreation can be part of what we do, and who we are. I wish Matt and Dave all the best. Your Olympics await.