Thursday, September 24, 2015

Glory Days Runs (ARFTA Content)

I was making my way down Toll Gate Trail between the Land Trust parking lot and the trailhead near my apartment to wrap up an easy run around the Waterline Loop when it hit me yet again.  This was a Glory Days Run.
Every now and then, on a particularly enjoyable, strong, or just noteworthy run, such a realization will take hold.  These are runs to be cherished, runs that will be looked back upon on some unassuming day at an unexpected time with a pleasant nostalgia that only those who have been there can fully appreciate.
Dancing down the rocks, doing my best to soak in the full experience of this most recent Glory Days Run, a flash of insight became apparent.  Just a couple weeks prior, I had the incredible privilege to bear witness to one of the most profound celebrations of Glory Days Runs in recent history.
A Race for the Ages, by its very design, defied expedient description.  Sometime in the witching hours of the last night of the race, Christian Griffith and I crept around the course, discussing this very fact and lamenting how difficult it would be to recount such an event with any adequacy.
The simple fact is that upon further reflection, I am forced to admit that I cannot.
Each race report is truly riveting, each picture nostalgic, and each comment thoroughly enticing.
But effectively encompassing the experience in a simple report eludes me. 
My own story of going out too fast, sunscreen stinging my eyes for the first 50k, talking smack with Case and Carl, having Lauren prove to be a prodigious crew keeping me alive and on track after my steep (if not predictable...) mental slide into that ultra pit we all know so well, and making a 40-mile push in the heat to sneak in for a 100-mile buckle, was all a big, solid, and profound race experience for me, but the event at large was so much bigger than my own little run. 
As I continue to wrap my mind around the weekend, the best depiction I can provide is that of a nearly unfathomable collection of Glory Days Runs. 
Circling the course with Ann Trason, Great Kings of the Road from days of yore, current multi-day elites like Joe, and legends in their own time like Ray the K and Don... how could an uppity young ultrarunner turn down such an alluring race? 
But all of this was the known appeal. 
Perhaps the moment at which I realize what a momentous gathering we had fallen into was during a slow, nondescript lap with DeWayne Satterfield (a legend in his own right, no doubt).  We had made the turn to go by the baseball field toward the 180-degree turnaround and noticed a group of four "seasoned" gentlemen making their way back from the turn.  DeWayne casually pointed and said, "You know, if you didn't know it, you'd never guess that there are three sub-14 hour hundred milers RIGHT THERE." 
And he was right.  By all appearances, the group of hexagenarians and septuagenarians was simply out for a leisurely stroll, talking, laughing, and sharing war stories, but their combined running resume is astounding, and at least with respect to a couple of them, if Dr. Satterfield hadn't made his comment, I never would have known. 
However, even in light of the almost incomprehensible level of Glory Days gone by for the legends on the course, perhaps just as staggering was the slow realization that there, in that very race, regardless of past accolades and accomplishments, nearly all participants were having their own Glory Days Run.
From getting the pleasure of running David Wingard's 100th mile with him (in 8:47!), to seeing the joy on the faces of those who just wanted to get out there and make a splash one...more...time..., to seeing four generations of Cantrells on the course together, this truly was A Race for the Ages, and I suspect that I'm not the only one who will look back at it as one of my Glory Days Runs.