Monday, January 2, 2012

Intention

Happy New Year Everyone! So here we are, another year. I'm really very glad, and humbled, that many of you continue to check back here from time to time and read the words I put up on your computer screens. It's incredibly hard to find content that constantly engages my audience. I've been at this blogging thing for over 7 years now. What the heck else could I possibly have to say? During the Christmas Break, I enjoyed a wonderful journey back to New England. I spent time with my family and close friends, even managed to run a little with my higher red blood cell count and yes.. it's true.. running is easier at sea level when you live at elevation. I had a great time while back east but it goes without saying that the many conversations I had with family and friends, the time away and time off, allowed me to be introspective about what I'm doing and where I'm going.

“I see my path, but I don't know where it leads. Not knowing where I'm going is what inspires me to travel it.”

I truly do love living in Colorado and moving here was one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life. Though I'll admit, as my job has turned unintentionally seasonal, and as my wife and I continue to work on the idea of welcoming a child into our world; I am often asking myself the hard questions about this journey called life. But in order to answer the hard questions on where I'm going; I must take a deeper look at where I've been. Reflection, after all, is a major component in educating oneself about.. oneself.

In the coming weeks I'll begin to share with you my plans and aspirations for 2012. We're also going to start diving right into adventures and expeditions very soon and I look forward to continuing to share these experiences with you. I really feel like I'm ready to make a major change in the way I explore and venture out into the world and this is the time to make that commitment. I'll share that with you in due time; but first, I really felt the need to share with you my thoughts on why I'll be making these decisions so that you have a better understanding moving forward with me.

Over the last few months, I've taken the opportunity to share with you my thoughts and opinions on the direction of Ultra-Running. There is no doubt that the sport has changed since the days when I first jumped in on the scene (2005). I think that, some times, I lose track of the journey I've taken to accomplish the things I have as an ultra runner; and have begun to focus on the things I don't agree with or generally feel detracted from the sport I knew when I joined it. In turn, the intention of my posts, my thoughts and my feelings often times get lost.

So.. enter the grumpy guy (that's me). I don't really want to be the grumpy guy. Most times, when I post something on this site, or else where; I'm sincerely trying to offer up a different point of view. What I've seen transpire in this sport is that "the masses" have subscribed to "group think" when it comes to their views and opinions on the direction the sport is taking. For instance... The Run Rabbit Run in Steamboat, CO is going to be offering up a $100,000 prize purse ($$ they don't even have yet) to the front runners of their inaugural race. Now.. I've shared my opinion a few times in regards to RD's making money, and rising entry fees of races, and the overall transition of people making a business out of this sport. And it's been argued in return that "the sport will NEVER be what Marathon Running or Triathlon/Ironman has become. The prize money is a good thing, etc etc."

"What is common to the greatest number gets the least amount of care. Men pay most attention to what is their own; they care less for what is common; or at any rate they care for it only to the extent to which each is individually concerned. Even when there is no other cause for inattention, men are more prone to neglect their duty when they think that another is attending to it." ~ Aristotle

So I try to offer up that differing point of view.. and often times in our sport get crucified for it (more on this later). Yet I still ask those questions others don't want to. Why do we NEED to provide the front runners in our niche sport.. a niche sport which was one considered a niche community, the opportunity to share $100,000 in winnings? The marathon culture never thought it would be as huge as it is today. Same goes for the triathlon and Ironman Culture. So how can you say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Ultrarunning won't rise to the same popularity? And if we're offering huge prize purses now.. what will it look like then? The numbers of participants and finishers in our sport has gradually grown every year since 2002; as well as the number of aspiring entrants and lottery hopeful's.  There is no signs of a blip in these numbers, no down year, and the sports population has continued to rise over the course of the last 5 years.

I fear ultra running has jumped the shark. Leadville is offering up pre-orders of IV's at the finish line of the race. Western States entertains almost 2000 people in a lottery where only 130 names are chosen. A few short years ago, Leadville struggled to entertain 400 runners in the race. After a year in which over 800 signed up, they now cap the race at 750. Over 700 people enter into the Hardrock Lottery now thanks to every Tom Dick and Harry running and finishing Leadville and/or Western States which is proof that.. as things transpire at certain races; it sends a ripple effect through to other races. The sport has changed.. and we're going to be the demise of the community we created and once cherished.
See: Tragedy of the Commons

I'm rambling on so let me get to the point. Over the last few months, as I've continued to ask these tough questions and try to share a different point of view (whether it's the point of view I agree with or not), I've been torn to shreds by the community I thought I once belonged to. I've been called a douche bag and a moron. I've been publicly labeled as someone who slings insults (from those who throw insults at me) and have had my opinions called erroneous and full of hyperbole.

When I joined Ultra-Running, I joined because the guy who introduced me to it said "so few people are doing this kind of thing." It appealed to me.. and I suppose that's not the case anymore because too many people are doing this and mucking up the water. I fear that my time to take a back seat in this sport has come (at the very least); and I've often even considered leaving the sport all together. So.. moving forward in 2012, I'm only signing up for 3 races. All three races are locally grown, are fundraisers that benefit a non-profit specifically, and to my knowledge do not have an RD that collects a pay day off of race revenues. Also moving forward, as I start to distance myself from the main-stream "popular kids club" of our sport (Ultra-List) I'll be taking on more journey runs.. and return to the roots I planted for myself when I first came to this sport. THIS is what made me so successful in years past.. the idea of community and adventure and human potential. That as the focus on these ideas have been lost, so to has my ability and desire to consistently reach the finish line.

My goals in this sport and through this blog remain the same. To engage in adventure and embark on new and exciting adventures; share the experiences had through these adventures with the readers of my blog; and hopefully inspire YOU to take on adventures of your own which helps unleash your true Human Potential. Please join me.. let's re-promote adventure, community and "for the common good" and abandon competition and corporation. 

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” ~Andre Gide