This is a guest post by Barbara Evans, who successfully ran the 30-mile SRT in 2022
After volunteering at the finish line of the 2021 SRT, I couldn’t get the race out of my head. Having lived in New Paltz for a number of years, then completing a section-hike of the Long Path in 2021, I thought maybe I could do the 30 (70 was out of the question). In the winter of 2022, I started getting out on various sections of the course, to see if I really thought I could do it – I’d do an out and back, add a mile or so each time. After about 2 months of that, knowing the generous cut-offs, I went all-in…
This is a guest post by Russ Dresher, winner of the 2022 SRT Run 70-mile division, and course record-holder (he won the race in 2021)
Thanks to all the volunteers that made this event possible. A special thanks to all the firefighters who battled the fires in Minnewaska State Park leading up to the event. For your work, you certainly earned a seat at the SRT family table. Of course, an extra special thanks to Ken and Todd for all that you do. You organize and put on one heck of an event. Your welcoming attitude is one of the main reasons I decided to run this race for the second year in a row. Congrats as well to all the runners. This course is no joke. Feel proud for however far you went or what your finishing time was. Welcome to the SRT family! Continue reading “Russ Dresher’s 2022 SRT 70-Mile Race Report”→
The secret to racing, writes Ross Bentley is “to drive over the limit at times, bring it back, hang it out there, dance with the car at the ragged edge.” I remembered Bentley’s advice a few weeks ago, while watching Top Gun: Maverick, with Tom Cruise as the aging fighter pilot who still feels, after all these years, “a need for speed.” Who still pushes jet aircraft over the limit at times, and people, too.
Later I was sketching out plans for a trip to New Hampshire, when the thought occurred to me — doesn’t everything worthwhile take place at some kind of edge? Call it the ragged edge of reality. A nebulous margin where knowledge gives way to the unknown. Where jolts of pain and pleasure provide intermittent light, like signal flares. Where the way forward, as Emerson wrote, “shall be wholly strange and new.”
In New Hampshire, the edge would lie for me along the White Mountain’s blade-like granite ridgelines, where I would attempt to climb a set of peaks without shoes or food (since that is how my practice works) — and to learn something, possibly, about myself and the world.
On October 26, 2019, Steve Aaron and I stood on a vantage point near the summit of Balsam Mountain and celebrated his completion of the Thirty Five. We stared across the valley at pumpkin-colored ridges and frothy marshmallow-mist swirling beneath cerulean sky, while overhead the clouds spread out into a celestial ribcage (the scientific term is cirrus vertebratus) and I thought, how strange that the sky would celebrate Steve’s accomplishment and then, wouldn’t it be even stranger if this was all coincidence….
He staggered for a step or two. I saw the concentration in his eyes. The inward scan and assessment. He seemed to understand that he could not go on. He seemed to accept it.
Afterwards, we called my son to let him know. My wife relayed the news, while I tried to add a comment but somehow couldn’t speak. Later I retrieved an image and sent it to my son. And then I dove into a decade’s worth of photos and began the process of reflecting and understanding….
The recent hit movie Top Gun: Maverick opens with Tom Cruise in a pickle. He’s test pilot for a next-generation stealth jet with a sleek black body reminiscent of the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane (which people my age might remember from growing up in the 1970s). Cruise is gearing up for a test-flight in which he’ll take the jet to Mach 9, when he gets word that the Navy brass intends to kill the project….
In September 2021, I reported on my 8,000th mile of barefoot walking, hiking, and running, and this morning I logged my 9,029th mile, so it’s update time.
What started as an experiment morphed into a practice and then became philosophy — and from here on the journey points into mystery. Originally the thought had been to reach 10,000 miles, and now that I’m nearing that objective I can only wonder what lies beyond. Honestly, there was no rationale for 10,000 miles, besides it being a round number. That and the thought that 10,000 hours of training in a discipline is said to make you an “expert.” Although what I’ve found is that barefoot teaches simplicity. There’s nothing to be an expert of.
The following is my account of the last 1,000 miles walked, hiked, and run without shoes — including successful races and other projects, frustrations, and lessons learned….
Surprise. On the way to (yet) another race, I’ve pulled off the New Jersey Turnpike — desperate for coffee, water, a break from unpredictable traffic (speeds of up to 95 MPH) — and here I find myself, suddenly, in the Walt Whitman Service Area. Whitman being, to some, the greatest artist America has produced. The singer of the open road. The poet of Democracy. I did not know there was a Service Area named for him. After the race I’m planning to visit his gravesite, which lies a few miles distant. First, though, I must complete the Delaware Running Festival Marathon in nearby Wilmington, my 100th event of marathon distance or longer. Which begs the question — what next?
Afterwards, sitting by the fire, sipping Darjeeling tea, listening to a violin sonata, there was a feeling of completion. And a moment of contemplation. Beforehand, though, I wasn’t sure I had the energy. Maybe yesterday took something out of me. I hiked up the mountain behind the house, with 40 pounds on my back, in the middle of a snow storm. (How the tall slender maples whipped back and forth as the wind rolled through!) Maybe it was the thought of snowshoes, which following the storm would certainly be called for. I’m not a fan of the extra clumsy weight and hadn’t touched them in a year. Maybe life is variable, and our energy levels fluctuate for reasons that aren’t apparent. Or maybe this is how it feels as you get older.
In any case, it wasn’t until I was back home and going through the spreadsheet that I realized how many times I’d climbed Peekamoose Mountain in the Catskills, and its Neighbor Table Mountain….
Having climbed the Catskills multiple times over, and having bagged the Adirondacks’ 46 high peaks, I am now slowly making my way through the next regional list — New Hampshire’s 4,000-footers, of which there are 48. Slowly, on account of the 5-6 hour drive to get there — and sometimes longer, as bumps in the road tend to knock the power cord out of my phone, which I notice at those inopportune times when I really need Google Maps. And slowly on account of the rough trails — steep, full of chunky rocks, dotted with mud pits, laced with roots — and my practice of going barefoot. Did I mention acorns?
This is the account of my latest trip — bagging 6 more peaks on a 20-mile trail over three rainy days.