Part of what attracts us to distance running is accomplishing something that even after we do it still amazes us. The problem sets in when you have been at this for a few years and it takes more and more to get us to shake our heads in that same amazement. That's how you get what we had this past Saturday at Hawthorne Park in Terre Haute, IN.
The annual Hawthorne Half Day is a very long day compressed into 12 hours. The deal is each person runs a 5K trail loop until the rest of the team has all done their legs and then you get to go again. The winning team comprised of 3 Personal Best runners and their friends repeated as champions with a total of 118.2 miles in 12 hours. Let me do the math, that is 6:05/M for a 12 hour relay. To run that fast for that long is crazy. 5/6th of the winning team is pictured above from left Scott Fihma, Sean Clark, (we will get back to Jesse holding the big eagle), Brian Kremer, Andrew Fritz, and Whitney Lazzara (Ben Chastain did not make the photo op).
Now if that is not enough and you might feel cheated having to sit out while others get to play you can do the entire 12 hours solo. A mostly rational human being, albeit a talented and speedy one, Jesse Davis inspired by our friend Scott Spitz's cancer fight decided to go this route. Until a few weeks ago Jesse never ran longer than 2 and half hours. Fresh off of a two week wedding break he worked in gentle 3 and 3 and half hour training runs the last few weekends. Should make 12 hours a breeze, right?
Limits are rarely met face to face. Jesse saw his on Saturday. He saw them, stared them down, and spit in their face. When someone runs as fast as Jesse it is easy to dismiss it as talent. What I witnessed on Saturday was not only talent of legs and lungs but the talent or ability or curse or whatever we want to name it, to keep fighting beyond the point of reason. I saw him transformed by will (and a little bit of pineapple) from a man close to the brink of curling up on the trail and sleeping for days to 7:00/M pace when told his lead had shrunk to less than a few minutes after 11 hours of running. The legend may vary but he ran his last half mile in about 3:00 to hold off a very, very tough competitor to win. The final result was 12 hours, 78.4 miles, 9:11 per mile average, $3,000 raised for Scott, and the amazement of all who witnessed it. Amazed most of all, because he lived it and felt it, was probably Jesse Davis.