I've spoken in recent posts about how over the past few years, I've found much enjoyment from time spent on trails. Hiking (specifically thru-hiking) has been the primary catalyst for this relationship, but trail running has also helped to keep that passion kindled.
So how do I explain the occasional oddity like Badwater. Why would someone like me, so attracted to the great outdoors and the trails, have any interest in running something like Badwater, or even Vol State for that matter? Both of which are pavement pounding road races. Certainly the geology and grandeur of Death Valley were partly to blame for my desire to participate in Badwater, but there is also something else fundamental to my crazy endeavors... something that many ultrarunners and adventurers alike often refer to: An intrinsic curiosity for new challenges.
In addition to an obvious love of the trails, I think there is this aforementioned fundamental notion at the root of ALL of my adventures. This notion, and it is ridiculously cliche', that I am absolutely curious to challenge myself in new ways. I think of it like this. I will always love the outdoors and hiking along those beautiful single-track trails, but I also like to simply experience different types of challenges. Nothing should ever feel monotonous, so why not mix things up? I suppose partly for the fun of it, partly to see if I might find a hidden passion for it, partly to see what my body and mind are capable of, and partly...well....because I can.
So where's this going....
Many of my ultrarunning friends and acquaintances have run "timed" ultras. Quite simply, for those of you that don't know, a "timed ultra" is simply a race that has a fixed time, instead of a fixed distance. Usually the goal of such a race is to see how far you can go over a specific time limit. A race will be say, 24 hours, and you run as far as you can in those 24 hours. Almost always, this type of race contains small, relatively flat loops that you repeat. I have never, in my 5 years of ultrarunning, had a desire to run such an event. The thought of repeating a small loop over and over and over for 24+ hours had no appeal to me, and frankly, I thought it never would.
Three days ago, I was looking for something to run mid-May, somewhat close by. I stumbled across the "3 days at the Fair" race in New Jersey. This race takes place over three days, offering several different timed events, all taking place on a 1 MILE LOOP. Yes you read that correctly, it's a 1-mile loop repeated ad nauseam (often literally). WHY ON EARTH would someone like me even consider such an event? Well, simply, because it's the exact type of event I would NEVER consider. I'm curious about the type of people that I'll meet there, I'm curious as to how I'll mentally keep myself together after potentially hundreds of repeated loops, and I'm curious what I'm capable of. I'm curious...and I've never run something like this before.
So I signed up. I have no idea what to expect, how long I'll last, how many miles I'll go, or if I'll enjoy it at all...but I want to at least try it.