There were no tracking chips, no water stations and certainly no cheering crowds. The official start line was spray-painted onto the trails a mere 10 minutes prior to the beginning of the race. The timing system was the race director’s wrist watch, and rather than the singing of the national anthem we were instructed on what to do if we ran into a wild hog. This was the Wild Sebastian.
I signed up for my first trail race not knowing what I was getting myself into. I knew there would be ultramarathoners passing me, going on to the glory of a 100 mile finish compared to my puny half marathon; I knew I would be running in dirt and through knee-high creeks; I knew that this race would be a little bit different. What I didn’t know was that I was going to fall in love.
See, I didn’t miss the bells and whistles of your standard road race. I don’t need an expo, and I don’t need another tech shirt. I just need that release, both mentally and physically, and that pure enjoyment of being outside; running to me is this euphoric melding of nature and my own meditations. I truly don’t give a shit about how fast I go or when I finish. I get so stressed out being around runners who track their numbers like crazy while they do speed work.
That’s why the Wild Sebastian Weekend was everything I wanted. From the camping outdoors all weekend, to the sense of human community, I was so at home with the entire ultra-scene. Running both of my races really took me back to the primal feeling of running; most of my competitors were either vastly ahead or behind me, and with no cheering crowds or music I had nothing to focus on but myself. It was beautiful. And on top of that, watching people win the 50 and 100 mile races, and just be happy with the satisfaction of doing so, was insanely inspiring. There were no winners podiums, and no specialized medals, but these athletes didn’t care; they did it because they love it, and that’s insanely powerful.
What this experience brought to the forefront for me was how divorced we’ve all become from our primal beings. It’s not that I don’t love modern day technology, but at some point it’s just too much noise. There’s truly something to be said about being alone in the wilderness with just yourself; it gives you this clarity and stillness of being that I wouldn’t trade for anything. After this past weekend of camping and running in the good old outdoors completely on my own, I know I need to adopt more of that into my lifestyle.
And with that, I’ve officially registered for my first ultramarathon – The WC-50 Ultra Trail Marathon in Charlotte, NC. I know it’s a little abnormal to skip the marathon and go straight to the 50k but I know it’s right for me. The thought of putting in all those months and miles of training and not getting what I really want out of it sounds miserable. This race is going to be an awesome first step towards my 100 mile dream goal.
Here’s to hoping I don’t, like, die.