Communion Of Dreams

So, you think you’re hard?
April 9, 2012, 10:17 am
Filed under: Failure, MetaFilter | Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve got a lot of respect for people who attempt difficult, almost impossible tasks. People who not only risk failure, but challenge it. Who step up to it in a bar, tap it on the shoulder, and then spit in its eye.

People like this:

In the fringe world of ultra endurance sports, there is an outlier: The Barkley.

The Barkley is the world’s toughest race you’ve never heard of. With 59,100 feet of climb and decent over 100 miles, it’s considered the most difficult endurance event on the planet. In its 25-year history, only twelve men, the same amount of men who have walked on the moon, have actually been able to finish the race.

* * *

The course is five loops around the park, totally unmarked, mostly off trail, with a time limit of sixty hours.

There are no manned aid stations. You must carry everything you need to survive “out there” including a map and compass (no GPS allowed) to navigate the course.

There are no rescues. You must self-extract, however long it takes, and get back to camp.

As I’ve said before:

The most interesting people I know are not the ones who have only succeeded in everything they’ve tried – that type is either too self-satisfied to be interesting, or so unambitious to have never pushed themselves. Give me people who go too far, who push themselves in what they do past their abilities, who are ambitious enough to want to Paint the Moon. Those are the people who are interesting.

Go take a look at that first site I mentioned above. There you’ll see before & after portraits of some of this year’s participants, along with how they fared in the attempt. If you think that you’re athletic, or can push yourself, consider what they accomplished. Then look in the mirror and think again.

I have no illusions. I was a fair athlete ‘back in the day’ but I was never in the kind of condition that these people are – even the ones who ‘only’ last 12 hours.

Maybe I only like these sorts of things because they make me feel better about my own failures.

I can live with that.

Jim Downey

Via MeFi.

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