Sunday, September 4, 2016

Lean Horse Ultra 2016, Race Report

and your beautiful thing
will be
a beautiful thing
to me
a beautiful thing
your beautiful thing

a beautiful thing, Tragically Hip
Lean Hose Ultra ... for Jo... a beautiful thing, continuing...always

Notes from the Race Director's meeting the night before Lean Horse...
  • Don't worry too much about mountain lions. They usually stay higher up in the mountains.
  • It's been cool lately so rattlers shouldn't be a problem.
  • If you come across a bear, hold your ground, make a lot of noise, and make yourself big (thought bubbles..."Big" I think "how big can a 5'4" guy get?! I can stretch it to 5'6"... hmmm, how tall is a bear anyway?")
I know my friend David Fielder will ask "What did I learn" so I'll address this first. I learned without goals we tend to drift from one dream to another never accomplishing anything of substance. I learned through pain and struggle we experience truth and wisdom.  I learned the only way to move forward is one step at a time and sometimes we stumble. I learned our time here is limited so live every moment as though it were your last. I learned that passion is difficult to explain.

I ran a 50 km ultramarathon, a baby ultra compared to the 50 and 100 miler ultra runners, but still an ultra.  My time was a little under 6 hours which isn't too bad considering I was hoping for a sub 7 hour. I've crossed many finish lines and they are all sweet and unique in their own right, but this, The Lean Horse Ultra, is etched in my mind. I ran it with heart and soul.  I ran it with my friend Jo in mind.  I ran it with strength and determination.

I have no story to tell. It's a passion that you get or you don't get.  Those that share this passion understand and they fill in the spaces with their own experiences, their own tears, success, and failures. The happiness I felt is simply beyond explanation. The afterglow of this event is lifelong. The pride and confidence gained is immeasurable. 

I know it's madness, but I was touched by Jo on the most difficult segment; a climb... ten miles up, endlessly up to Crazy Horse.  She did not talk to me, but I felt her presence and the warmth of her beautiful smile.  It helped me climb, tapping the button three times. I know she'd be mad with me for being sappy, but really, she was there, and it meant so much. Her presence spoke "you got this Mike, it's a good day to be alive, now do it". 

My proudest moment happened a week after the event over beers and barbeque when my son Max wrote on social media..

Super proud of my dad for getting first place in the Lean Horse 50 km race in the 50-59 age category. For those not in the know, a full marathon is a mere 42.2 km so 50 km is classified as both an 'ultra marathon' and an absolute descent into madness.

and then posted this picture...

...absolute descent into madness...
photo credit Max Bennett
Ace Burpee wrote so accurately and eloquently of the depth and breadth of Jo's life in an article in The Winnipeg Free Press. Ace writes:

She will forever inspire, not just myself, but the countless other lives she touched, inspiring people to work harder, dig deeper, and more important have more fun than anyone else on Earth while doing it.  
To end, I return to David Fielder's question: What did I learn?  

David, I suggest Ace says it best and he speaks for the multitudes of runners, triathletes Ironmen, men in pink spandex, regular dudes and dudettes, heros and zeros.  Together, collectively, and individually, we learned...

Go outside and get it. Show her what you learned.

It's a good day to be alive my friends. Now go outside and get it.


"Go outside and get it"
photo credit Jennifer Kirkwood

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