Ultramarathoner to Thru Hiker
Journey to Vermont Long Trail: Ultramarathoner to Thru Hiker
My journey into ultra running started with taking up running as a source of therapy but also helped kickstart my weight loss journey. I ended up losing 65 plus lbs!! I transitioned from road running to trail running and then taking it to the mountain trails. Once you get hooked on those mountain trails it is easy to get sucked to the dark side and jump on the crazy bus of ultra running!!
For those unfamiliar with what exactly an ultra distance is…. it is anything over a marathon distance….although if you ask the hard cores it is 50 km!!
The exhilaration and challenge of the bigger distances gives those of us on this crazy bus a high that can not be explained. It became a way to see different places, meet new people, and go find new dark places within ourselves just to climb back out again!! The allure of ultramarathons has grown immensely over the years and more and more are being created in some really cool places.
As much as I love the race environment I also longed to slow down in some of these wild spaces to truly enjoy what I see around me. So I started to get more into backpacking.
Last year I did a fun solo point to point 64 km run in a very wild and remote place….the first thing I thought when I was done….I want to bring my tent back there and sleep under the stars!!
I feel there is a place for both in my life….but as my life continues to be a crazy rollercoaster I long for that slower time on the trail more and more. That time to slow down my body and my mind. Backpacking offered me that…..but being an endurance athlete, I was looking for that next challenge.
Enter thru hiking!! Thru hiking is defined as a point to point journey on a trail without leaving the trail for an extended period of time. A PCT thru hiker, Hook, was quoted as saying “If you can’t carry it in your heart or on your back, you probably don’t need it”. It has become a backpackers motto.
There is a different kind of thrill in carrying your life on your back through challenging terrains. The logistics for a long trek are petty crazy!! How much food and water to carry? How far am I from being able to resupply? Gear failures, injuries, showers, comforts of home you take for granted….among the things you think about as you know you are going to be far from civilization at times.
Moving and camping through all types of weather knowing there is no escape.. You truly learn what you really need to survive.
The simplicity of starting everyday by enjoying a new landscape each morning. Breakfast, tear down, off to see where the trail leads you today, and repeat for days and days on end.
The thrill of covering long distances in a shorter period of time in the mountains through running will not be part of my past but I look forward to the new challenges of where my feet and heart can take me with what I have learned is essential to carry with me, meanwhile letting go of things in my head and heart that are not. 6 weeks and counting to my biggest challenge yet!!
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