close to the face of god.

I've spent a good portion of the last year and many minutes this past weekend soaking up sage advice from my good friend, Kelly Agnew.  He throws me some curve balls every now and then to keep my ego in check (or something), but mostly he freely shares what wisdom he's compiled during numerous ultramarathons.

I look forward to his race recaps and I guess he gets a kick out of mine too.

After dragging my feet for a few days in the wake of the Oil Creek 100 on Saturday and Sunday, I wasn't surprised to get a text from Kelly demanding to know when I was going to get around to putting up a post about the race, my first ever 100 miler.

And then, upon learning that I wasn't making any headway with my writing, he encouraged me to reflect back on the weekend and write about (and I quote) some "moment when you were close to the face of God...or some shit."

So, uh, here goes.

Having too little experience to have a solid idea of how long it might take me to travel 100 miles on foot, I'd guessed that somewhere between 27-29 hours sounded reasonable.  The race has a 32 hour cutoff but for whatever reason that sounded like way too long to be on my feet.

You know, cause 29 hours isn't long at all.

I came across the line (a point I'd left at 5 AM on Saturday) just before 9:00 AM on Sunday morning with a time of 27:58:59 feeling like one helluva good guesser.

First, let me say that 28 hours IS a long time.  Can't even tell you the last time that I was AWAKE for 28 hours straight, much less striving forward for that long a stretch.

But, frankly, I feel like I got a little shortchanged on calamity.

Considering the mayhem that has frequently followed me around race courses, I'm perplexed as to what went wrong at Oil Creek.

Er, um, went right, that is.

I did not vomit.  My bowels didn't loosen.  My gimpy arches didn't give even in the rain that held through most of the night.  Nary a cramp.  No chafing.  Not a single bee sting.

Nothing but wickedly sore feet and some fatigued legs.  I can't imagine that those are anything but par for the course.  In other words, I walked away with nothing to write about.

In fact, now that I think about it, one of the ways I've cheated myself is by meeting and getting to know men and women who've tackled these types of adventures before.

Some with frequency; with regularity.

Ho hum and such.

They've been there, done that, you know the cliches.

The throwing up, the diarrhea, exhaustion, cramping, injuries and even hallucinations are all part of the drill for that set and just simply going a long way ain't much.  Maybe I shouldn't have read so many race reports.  I could've turned the sound down low when folks started sharing their tales of suffering and endurance.  Then perhaps I could look back on the weekend and feel like I'd really accomplished something.

Instead, I kinda feel like maybe all I did was go from the guy who'd never done a 100 to the guy who has just done one and only managed a mediocre time in spite of having no real issues along the way.

Sure, I turned an ankle and took one good fall on my right hip, but really...?


The face of God?  Not even close.

I did see a possum, but he seemed not divine.  I've heard God works in mysterious ways, but that's not mysterious, just really, really weird.

Wasn't him, I'm sure of it.

THAT would've been a good story, though.  God in the form of a possum gives me a talking to as I stumble across an old railroad bridge at mile 76.

Wasn't him though.

It was just a possum in the form of a possum wondering who or what in the hell I was and what in the hell I was doing trip-trapping across his bridge at whatever in the hell time in the morning it was.

That selfish rodent could have at least done me a favor and given me a quick leg gnaw for later storytelling purposes.  Apply a few battle scars to thicken the plot.


The face of God?

I did spend several minutes during the first few frigid hours of the race trying to untangle my iced over beard from the drinking hose of my hydration pack.  A nuisance?  You betcha.  A hardship?  A monumental obstacle?


Hell, it never even crossed my mind to seek the face of God.

I've read and heard so many tales of loneliness on long races but, truth be told, I spent all but 6 or 7 miles in the company of friends.  I loved every shared moment.  Each conversation, the laughter and even the long stretches of comfortable quiet with Jefferson in the wee, wet, slippery hours of the late night and early morning.

I certainly wasn't lonely.

If God had peeked down (up? over?) looking for someone to grace with his presence, he'd a passed right be me, seeing that I was in good company and hardly in need.

So, I walked away without having required any divine intervention.  Not one single instance of heavenly interaction.

Did what I set out to do and should be relieved that I've got my health on the back end.  I should be overjoyed that I met my goal and that a good bit of the reason that it wasn't more calamitous is because I applied the lessons that I learned in tougher races and harder times.

And, if I'm being honest, I guess I am.

But, NEXT time.  Next time, it's all gonna go wrong.

And when God shows his face, I'm going to wipe the vomit from my beard, grin a beleaguered but honest grin and say, "THERE you are, possum!"

Or some shit.


  1. Good stuff Leon! Love it when it all comes together like it should :-)

  2. Thanks! I beginning to think I was going to have to writer his thing myself.

    You were very fortunate to have seen the Possum during your first 100. He didn't appear for me until my 3rd. You are indeed blessed my friend!

  3. Bravo Mr Possum ... you did good ... :-)~

  4. Great report (and guess)!

    I'm glad you didn't see the face of God. Running, especially 100's, is basically putting one foot in front of the other. So maybe you did.

    Zen proverb:

    Before enlightenment: Chop wood, carry water.
    After enlightenment: Chop wood, carry water.

    Good job!

  5. Nice recap. Gives me hope that sometimes things don't have to go wrong and finishing 100 miles is possible.