In the world of long distance and ultrarunning, runners are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: Newb’s, who make terrible mistakes and errors in judgement, and those that are experienced, who get overconfident and lackadaisical. These are their stories. These are their Deathmarches………………
I was 34 miles into a solo adventure run/hike in northern Washington. I had just run the Capital City Marathon 4 days ago in Olympia and was admittedly overconfident on the aspirations I had for this day.
I had poorly misjudged the time it would take to get back by doubling the time it took to go the first half of the way. It was now around 10pm, completely dark and in the low 40’s. I was wearing shorts and a long sleeve technical shirt. No gloves or jacket. I had a flip cell phone (no data, no Google maps) that I used to light the trail I was on and a vague google map print-out in my pocket. My teeth were clattering and my hands were so cold that I was jogging with them in my armpits. I had put all my hope in making into town and reheating and resupplying for the last few miles back to my cabin. This hope was crushed as I made it into town to find it completely deserted of people and cars. Not even the gas station was open. I knew it would be at least an hour to get back and probably more since I was getting disorientated trying to read the map in the dark. Panic entered my mind. I had never felt as cold or in as much despair as I had that night. It was past 11pm and all I could think of was calling 9-1-1 or going over to the residential area and knocking on random people’s homes and begging for help. On the other side of town I saw lights from a sole business in the darkness. The only business in town that was still open, Taco Bell.
I tried to open the door, but it was locked. I looked inside and didn’t see anyone. I went around to the side to the drive through intercom and managed to get a response. I pleaded with him to open the door because I was a traveler and lost. When I entered a rush of warmth came over my entire body like I had never felt before. I felt like I had been saved. I made my way to the counter, still shivering, and ordered 2 tacos. Then I entered the bathroom and ran hot water over my hands until I was able to get some feeling back. I ate the tacos, got directions, and left a $20 tip. I ran the last 4 miles back mentally rejuvenated, which I think was the biggest factor in my getting back home. I knew there was nothing that was going to stop me from getting back after receiving help from someone that in all accounts had no reason to. The amount of gratitude I felt for this small deed overwhelmed all the negative mental projections I had in my mind about the last part of this trek.