Is it possible to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states? Is it possible to free climb El Capitan? Is it possible to run all 2100+ miles of the Appalachian Trail in 45 days? The answer to all of those is a demonstrable yes, and here are the 3 crazy people who did them.
The human body can be trained for amazing accomplishments and pushed to limits far beyond what seems physically possible. Many ultramarathon runners say that the biggest hurdle to completing your first 50 or 100 mile race is pushing past the mental hurdles. My own story includes being horribly out of shape with a bad back that led to an embarrassing day. It also includes the successful completion of a marathon on my first try, just 3 years later.
I’ve been increasingly fixated on what is legitimately possible in recent years. I’ve gone from a two time college dropout to a PhD student. I’ve gone from a lower middle class upbringing on the east coast to living in Hawaii for nearly 9 years as an adult. I didn’t read my first book, cover to cover, until I was 25 and now I have a library of hundreds of books I’ve read on a wide variety of topics. I’m currently tightening up my skill set for my job search in the Instructional Design field and adding web development to my personal toolbox.
I’ve got a list of 100 things I’m definitely going to do before I’m 60 and there is no doubt that I’ll get there as long as I live that long. When it comes to possibilities, I love to read about people who have done amazing things. Here are 3 who have recently successfully completed amazing feats.
3 Crazy People
Alex Honnold: You may not have been familiar with him until recently, but he was hard to avoid just a few weeks ago. For those that don’t know, Honnold is a free climber. That’s someone who climbs mountains without any kind of rope, net, or other safety equipment. His grand accomplishment was free climbing all 3000+ feet of El Capitan in early June.
Karl Meltzer: Meltzer is well known in ultrarunning circles. He holds the record for the most 100 mile races won (38). In September 2016 he broke the time record, set in 2015, for running the entire 2190+ miles of the Appalachian Trail. He finished the run in 45 days, 22 hours, and 38 minutes. Previous record holder Scott Jurek joined him for the final 31 miles. Meltzer did this at age 48.
Dean Karnazes: Dean is another well known ultramarathon runner. He has accomplished some truly stunning feats of endurance. Probably his greatest accomplishment occurred in 2006 when he ran 50 marathons in 50 days, covering all 50 states in the US. He also has claimed to run 350 miles over a 3 day period without stopping for sleep.
Bonus: 3 Crazy Activities
The Barkley Marathons: You can find a documentary of this one on Netflix if your would like. Or, you can just go to the Wikipedia page for the insanity. This series of races takes place in a 60 hour window. The races are based on a prison break. The race courses are never the same. More than half of the time the race has no finishers. A bugler plays taps when someone drops out. It’s insane, but it’s possible and people are clamoring to get a shot at it.
Badwater: The Badwater 135 is considered by most to be the hardest ultramarathon to complete. It’s a 135 mile race through Death Valley starting below sea level to over 8000 feet during the middle of July. While extremely difficult, it is possible and has been completed by a type 1 diabetic.
Leadville: If there is a 100 mile ultramarthon that I most want to try, it’s this one. I had severe asthma as a child and Leadville is an ultramarthon where the lowest elevation is 9200 feet. The race is a round trip in the mountains of Colorado and the time limit of 30 hours seems incredibly daunting.
What are you going to do about it?
What possible things, or impossible things, do you want to do? I’ve focused on the physical in this post, but there are plenty of ways to push yourself beyond what you think is possible.