The 40-Miler

I have no intention, no desire, no dream at all to run anything more than a 50K. But, if other people have that goal, I will support them. I will never understand them, but as a runner, I sort of get it.

Bryce trained throughout the spring into July for his first 40-mile race. This would be his longest distance after completing a few “lesser” ultra distances. The race was around Mt. St. Helens in mid-July. I went with him but wasn’t sure how I was really going to spectate since I couldn’t run.

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I ended up just watching him start and finish the race. The hours in between? I drove an hour-and-a-half to Portland (and back) to meet up with my cousin who lives in Salem. We did a lot of walking and market-hopping and eating. It was time well spent because even though Salem is “a short-ish drive away” from Seattle, I hardly see her.

I wanted to make sure I timed my return right so that I would be back at the race to see Bryce finish. He anticipated he would be done in about eight hours. When I arrived back to the race, slightly over the eight-hour mark, I was worried that maybe he was already done.

Nope, only two runners had finished thus far.

I sat around waiting with other friends and family who were waiting for their own runners to finish. Finally one man came sprinting — yes, sprinting! — through the finish. He was yelling a woman’s name. I assumed he was calling for his wife or girlfriend. No, he was looking for the race director.

Apparently there was a runner down who was not doing so well. (I overheard someone say the race number and was relieved that it was not Bryce).

And, it was the same scene when runner after runner finished. They all gave an update on the fallen runner. Someone said he had checked the runner’s pulse. Someone else estimated how far away on the course he was. He was coherent but probably dehydrated and needed help. It was touching to see how all these people who freaking just ran 40 miles were all concerned about this other runner. Before they even went to get a drink or sit down or anything, they were all talking to the race director and updating her.

Trail runners are a good people.

A few runners even stayed with the runner, I later learned.

It started getting cooler — after being in the high 80s all day — and I had no idea how long I’d be waiting for Bryce. But when he did show up, I couldn’t have been prouder or happier.

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He looked strong. He was smiling. He did it! The first thing he said to me was an apology for being late. Usually I’m annoyed when he is late for things, but not this time.

He was on time in my book. He finished in one piece!

I’ve always felt that road races are my bread and butter. But, the more time spent at trail races — even if I’m not running — and the longer I’m injured, the more I think maybe I’ll totally convert to trail running when I’m healed.

Trails are easier on the knees, after all. But, enough about me.

Huge congrats, Bryce. What’s the next race?

 

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