Guest Author: Doug Loveday
So I’m driving around Tucson for work today and I start smiling from cheek to cheek, and then laughing inside, and then laughing out loud. I had been looking at the Southwest corner of the Catalinas thinking about the pureness and hardiness of ultra-running which led me to contemplating on the Grand-Daddy of them all: Western States. That in itself is not so funny, in fact it is pretty daunting even to the most seasoned ultra-runner. So why was I laughing like a fool on the surface streets of the Old Pueblo on a Tuesday? To answer that we have to go back to last October…
Javalina Jundred 2015. I talked myself onto the job (there were very few applicants) of pacing the “in-house” author of this blog Charlie Ware for his first successful 100 mile run. Joining him after 62 miles I was partnering with a young man going into the unknown after a punishing full day out on the trail. We were both first timers: me as a pacer and him running over 62 miles. What then transpired was an exhibition of fortitude and commitment that I will never forget as Charlie proceeded to gracefully (yeah he runs smoothly even after pounding the dirt and rocks >10 hrs) knock out a 16:30 hundy. After a brief recovery we: Charlie, his wife Ronika and myself were all giddy with what had just happened…significantly happened. I’m not talking about someone posting a pic of a double scoop ice cream cone on facebook under the heading: “This just happened.” What Charlie did finishing only a few minutes behind Karl Meltzer as a hundy virgin was momentous…still gives me chills.
By February 2016 Charlie had carried his Javalina fitness and momentum to produce an ~8:42 100K at Black Canyon, behind only another legend in Sage Canaday. In doing so he won himself a Western States Golden Ticket.
So now this is getting real…from two respective rookies and Ronika at Javalina to a convoy converging on Lake Tahoe. Real cool, and real intimidating. Charlie has already written in detail about what a great group we had there…and how the race played out. But what stuck out to me and elicited laughter even so many months after was what happened right after what was probably the lowest point for Charlie. After joining up for pacing duties at Forest Hill (mi 62) and after much coaxing on our (Catlow, Lisa, Ronika and Charlie’s parents) part, and much panting and a little delirium on Charlie’s part we started walking on course. I suggested we walk for 3 minutes and then try a slow jog. We passed the inflatable sponsor arc and timing pad for the official Forest Hill check point and continued down the main town drag. We slowly began our negotiated jog. Granted, we were going slow, but Charlie, shirtless, tanned and rippling with muscles that don’t always appear to serve a useful purpose other than to shamelessly exist, was getting a few hoots and hollers from the side street cafes. We then passed in front of another such establishment with outdoor seating with a table of onlookers enjoying their late afternoon drinks. A woman simply purveyed the runner in front of her, and instead of seeing a broken athlete who was distraught at that moment, she paid Charlie the simplest of compliments that we all hear daily: “Thank you.” It was spoken to Charlie with the intonation that inferred this was not for any service rendered other than being there, at that moment, living life strongly with courage, gracefully and perhaps while providing an appeasing view. That “Thank you” stuck with me the next 38 miles, and most likely with Charlie too as he rebounded and laid down a 20 hr. first time Western States despite some setbacks.
So I text Charlie today, some 5 months later: “Do you remember that lady after the Forest Hill aid station……that said “Thank you?” That was awesome!”
Thanks for reading : )
p.s. and he did!
Studying up pre-Western.