That all changed on Monday, April 2, 2012. Sixty hours is all it took. For 60 hours.. all of it, he circumnavigated the course known as the Barkley. As they talked about Maune's record and Jared coming in.. they also mentioned him. Who? Who is he? He flew under the radar. Told virtually no one that he was in the event. He has no sponsors and in turn, no shirt littered with the names of companies that support him. His race results show that he is indeed a mere mortal, a mid-pack runner, with an ample number of ultra-finishes along side his mortal peers. This wasn't supposed to be. For over 25 years.. only the front runners and elites, the celebrated, the sponsored, the heroes, the "named".. were those who completed this event. But in just 60 hours, this man broke the mold and changed the face of our sport forever.
|Courtesy: John Fegyveresi|
Sadly, on the Ultra and Barkley mailing lists after his finish, one writer quipped; "I had no clue who John was until know. But wait, Who the hell is he?" I'll tell you who he is. And so I replied: "
I just want to say that... I've shared some trail with John Fegyveresi. I've seen him at numerous of the ultra's I've been privileged to run over the years. He is one of the kindest, gentlest, most intelligent souls I've ever had the honor of meeting. He's the real deal. A lover of our earth, not just the wilderness areas he choses to play in. He has an excellent blog where he shares his countless adventures.. and I implore all of you to take a closer look at this fine man. http://lakewoodhiker.blogspot.com/"In 60 Hours, John Fegyveresi be came my hero and the hero of countless other Mid-Pack Ultra runners. Why? Because he proved that you don't need sponsors, or to do speed work, or run ridiculous miles, or be an elite, or be known by everyone or anyone in the community, or hold a record or any of that other garbage.. to finish the toughest race in the world. John exemplifies the beauty of our sport.. that on any given day, you can do it. You can do anything you put your mind to. Like the first person who introduced me to ultra running said, "All you need is to be stubborn and able to put up with some discomfort." John did just that at The Barkley Marathons.
I'm not saying John isn't a good runner. I'm not saying he's a nobody. What I am saying is that John proves a point I've been trying to make for well over three years now. That as our sport continues to celebrate the fast and the elite, we should be equally as celebratory towards our mid-packers and back of the packers. As our sport continues to become increasingly more commercialized, we need to continue to look for those grande accomplishments in these continuously grassroots events. We need to continue to realize that on any given day, no runner should be under the radar.. but celebrated for their efforts whether they come in first or last. John makes us keenly aware of this as he continues to celebrate his finish at The Barkley.
John is my hero. An amazing man, amazing effort, amazing runner. I hope many more like him get the same chance to step forward, and been seen.. and be heard.
(John has no knowledge or say in what I've written in this article. The views expressed here are mine and my own.)