Remember this, boy: This is who I am, and this is what I do.
— Horty (Pages 68-73)
Why? This is who I am. This is what I do.
I dropped Speedgoat off at Pinefield Gap so he could run with Jurker that evening. He pulled on his waist belt and slid two beer cans into the water-bottle holders. Legendary. I saw three black bears in the direction they were running and I’d seen three more by the time I drove to the final meeting spot of the day. I had asked Speedgoat if he was worried about bears in this notoriously bear-filled section and he said, “Nope, I just put on my headphones and turn the music up louder.” Jurker was in good hands.
Years ago, he (Don) had introduced me to the Japanese philosophy of Bushido, or the “way of the warrior,” which stressed honor, simplicity and courage. There are echoes of its lessons in the stoicism of Marcus Aurelius, especially in the tenet that has most influenced me: The mind of a warrier (or anyone performing a difficult task) should be so attuned to the moment that thoughts and emotions do not impede proper action A mind in this condition is thought to function so optimally that the right decisions come naturally and pain and fear disappear. I often saw similarities between this mindset and what elite athletes refer as to “being in the zone.” When I successfully adopted the mind of the warrior, I felt a great sense of must-ness replace my confusion and anxiety. I must keep going — no question. Was I going to release my heaviness or carry it the rest of the way north? Was I even going to make it to Maine, much less break the record for doing it? I had no idea. Literally, I had no idea in my head beyond the overwhelming must. Keep going; it’s as easy as that. A single focal point. Keep going. Stay in the now. Every moment contains only one thing: the potential to keep going.
He read a book a week and said he would rather help a friend through a divorce than go to the wedding “because everyone will help you party but few will help you grieve.”
— Jurker, on Timmy O’Neal
But Ralsty, like Horty and the Speedgoat and many of my other friends, was full of contradictions. Maybe it’s an ultrarunner thing. Maybe it’s a human thing. In any case, my friends could sure be peculiar. Case in point: here was a man who’d endured something most people can’t even imagine - yet he didn’t like getting dirty.
He would take off his shoes and socks every time we crossed a stream s he wouldn’t get sand in them, and he insisted on bathing as thoroughly as possible whenever it was even remotely feasible. Meanwhile, I was beginning to look semu-decomposed. Timmy, who was friends with Ralsty from their many wilderness outings, curiously maintained that “anyone who declares a war on dust obviously has too much time on their hand.”
—Jurker, on Aron Ralston
Like a beater truck with high mileage and bad suspension
—JLu on Scott’s running while he had the knee + thigh injuries