|Photo by Howie Stern
“If I get lost” the runners repeat loudly,
“hurt” ... many voices chiming in,
“or die” ...
“it’s my own damn fault.”
And with a few nervous laughs from the runners and even louder laugh into a hum from the growing crowd, I glance again at my watch. 2 minutes. Again, the earth, my stomach moves. I’m about to start the 2019 Tahoe 200 Mile Endurance Run with the biggest field in the history of 200 milers in the USA. I created this beast and it’s amazing to see how it’s turned into something, from nothing. Nearly 250 runners from almost every state and so many countries that our start line chute is filled with colorful flags, flapping in the light breeze. But it won’t be light for long.
This is the Sierra Nevada Mountains and these runners are about to embark on a 205 mile journey... of up to 100hrs/4 days. We don’t know it yet, but the course will be blanketed in inches of snow by the last 24 hours and yet, the runners persist, pushing through obstacles, most in their minds, but oh so real... many large, looming in front of them: steep climbs, torrential downpours, freezing nights, tired legs, pain and fatigue.
Even overpowering hallucinations and reality slowly slipping away. And the snow covering the mountains like a cold blanket on the last day, making everything look brand new again, that’s what I’d hope for at the end of this quest: discovery of something brand new, a side of myself that perhaps I’d never seen before, a glimpse beyond the usual day to day grind, something extraordinary.