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Eagle Up Ultra

We are capable of so much more than we ever imagine. Yesterday, 650 runners and their crews descended on the quaint town of Canal Fulton, Ohio, to push beyond once perceived limits.

In only its fourth year, the Eagle Up Ultra has become so popular that by 12:30pm on Friday afternoon the parking lot was full. A tent city was created and the nervous energy of anticipation was palpable. Old friends embraced and new friendships were made as community gathered.

At 4:30am the next morning the hive stirred as people dressed, stretched, and fueled. Soon we gathered around the start, honored the service of veterans, and we were off.

The Eagle Up course is a five mile loop that paralleled a canal, crossed an overpass, and came back up next to the Tuscarawas River. The first 3-4 laps were perfect. My body felt great and the crowds of people at the start meant that I got to meet and run with all kinds of cool people. I felt so good that I began to think that if things continued at this pace I could maybe run 100 miles.

And then the heat hit.

The forecast called for overcast skies, and while that happened in Columbus, the clouds never came to Canal Fulton. With a relentless sun bearing down, the crowds thinned, goals adjusted, and the medical tent filled. I joined the ranks of the broken after 35 miles. Tightness in my quad caused pain in my knee that took the on-site physical therapist (thanks, Amy) about a half hour to work out.

After the long delay, I headed back out and the next lap was good, but the following lap defeated me. I came in after 45 miles feeling spent. My friend Jon showed up right as i was finishing the lap with a full Wendy’s dinner and large frosty, but it was all too heavy to eat.

After an extended dinner break and change of socks I went back out again knowing I had to at least get to 50 miles. Accompanied by my patient friend Cynthia, I felt like I had my legs back under me and dedicated myself to 100 kilometers. Jon got me to 55 miles and I ran the last full lap by myself, embracing the darkness of night. I loved running in the night and look forward to doing that again.

I came back by our “Secret Running Peeps” headquarters tent (thanks, Stan and Amy) and got Jon and Mike to do the last 2.1 with me. The out-and-back segment was marked by congratulating other people on the way out and receiving congratulations on the final mile in.

Eagle Up Ultra did not go as planned. The heat and humidity took many casualties and I had to temper my own expectations. But I set a personal record for longest distance run and time on feet. I faced dark moments with strength and proved the maxim that “it doesn’t always get worse.” Most importantly, I received the gift of being part of the running community where strangers pop each other’s blisters, joys and struggles are shared, and master race directors like Eric offer never-ending support.

We are capable of so much more than we think, not only because of the untapped potential within ourselves, but because of the generosity of people that surround us.

I ran this race supported by almost 50 people who donated to the leukemia and lymphoma society, raising over $3,000. As I ran, I thought about what I was grateful for each person and prayed for them. If you would like to make a donation, go to:


Light the Way 5K

Everyone has an inherent need to give back. Nothing makes us come alive more than helping others.

This morning 300-plus people from the West Ohio Annual Conference ran the Light the Way 5K. The race raised thousands of dollars to start new churches in the North Katanga Conference.

I knew going in to the 5K that I would not be running full effort. In three days I’ll be running the Eagle Up 24 hour ultra. I wasn’t going to expend a lot of effort just before my “A” race of the year. Instead, I planned on treating this like a pre-race stretch out run.

About a quarter mile in I ran in to my friend and Church and Community Worker missionary, Soraya Montano. Soraya does not often run, so I spent the next couple of miles helping her.

We soon found ourselves running in a torrential downpour and thunderstorm. Before the race started, the director said if we heard thunder or saw lightning that the run would stop and to come to the finish. However, I didn’t see anyone stop or take a shortcut to the finish. Instead, we laughed as we ran through flooded paths and embraced the joy in the journey.

I did make a detour to The Patio and left my phone with strangers, not wanting to fry it in the rain. In the last mile, i ran with two more people, helping another person get across the finish line.

In the last decade, I’ve crossed many finish lines with the help of others. Today, i discovered tie beauty of running without watch or music but seeking to give back in the way that so many others have given to me. In doing so, nothing made me come more alive than running with others.

Why run 24 hours?


In three weeks I will be running the Eagle Up 24 hour ultramarathon. When I share this news with my running friends it is met with encouragement, excitement, and support. When I share this news with my non-running friends it is met with shock, curiosity, and bewilderment.

The question many people ask me is, why?

The answers to that are multiple.

First, running with the beloved community is my happy place. Just as some people find joy in golf or drawing or shopping, mine is found on the trail.

Second, is a basic desire to discover what I am capable of. I have twice run 50 miles and at the end of each I felt like I had more in the tank. We are capable of more than we tell ourselves. This run will be another step forward in to undiscovered territory.

The desire to discover what I am capable of is not only a matter of achieving a new distance, but also to experience what it is like to practice “relentless forward progress” for 24 hours. What is it like to physically and mentally push beyond 12 hours? How will I embrace the darkness of the night and the dark moments within myself? What will it be like to run toward the first glimpse of sunlight? “More than those who watch for the morning! More than those who watch for the morning! (Psalm 130:6)

Third, is a desire to be part of something bigger than myself. The running community is an unexpectedly wonderful place where support is generously given and achievements are commonly shared. In past runs, I have found great strength in running for a cause. This time I’ll be running for the most personally significant cause I’ve ever run for, the work to end leukemia. I will carry the names of each donor with me and that person will accompany me for one mile. During that mile, I think of that person and pray for that person, they are literally with me.

Running for something greater than myself is the strongest motivation. My legs might cramp, my skin might be covered in sweat, but when I lift my eyes up off myself, I find the strength to persevere.

Join me on this journey by making a donation to:


Playin Possum Preview

A preview of next week’s race, from a run at DSP today:

– guess what, it has rained a lot in Ohio this year. The Lakeview Trail might be a little bit wet. Enjoy it. How many times as an adult do you get to splash in puddles?

– The grass on top of the damn levee has not been mowed. It is thick to run through. This is a great opportunity to do some ankle strengthening exercises.

– There is a lot of poison ivy out there. Dress and take precaution appropriately

– The creek crossing is deeper than previous years, but very easy to do. Plus, this could wash off any poison ivy.

– I made four wrong turns today and i am helping to mark the course next week. I don’t see how that could go wrong

– DSP is one of the most beautiful places in Ohio. You are going to have a blast. Forget about your watch or how long it takes, embrace the wonderful community and the beautiful nature. Have fun out there!

Big Turtle 50K

Overhurt, Undertrained, and Over Here

In ways beyond the scope of this blog, 2019 has been one tough year. Every day has seemed to bring with it another challenge that has left me in a place where nothing’s shocking.

Low on the list of problems has been a spate of running injuries. In January, I broke my broke my arm on the ice at Highbanks Metro Park. Three weeks ago, I pulled my hamstring in an ill-intended effort to burn off anxiety. Last week, I turned my ankle when I stepped on a large rock. With all of these injuries combined, I am greatly undertrained and about 150 miles behind pace on my goal of running 2,019 miles this year.


Another hill around mile 29

Before all of this, I registered for the Big Turtle 50 in Morehead, Kentucky. In a rare moment of wisdom, I changed my registration from the 50 mile to the 50 kilometer run. Even so, it was not until Thursday that my physical therapist gave me permission to go. She made me promise that I would stop if I felt pain in my hamstring, not that everyone doesn’t feel pain in an ultramarathon. However, I went in to the run planning to walk the uphills and run the downhills to protect my hamstring. I just didn’t realize how many hills there were.

The run began at Morehead State University and traveled an out-and-back trail through the Daniel Boone State Forest. I looked at the elevation profile before the race but greatly underestimated the steepness of the hills. According to my Garmin, the run included 3,700 feet of elevation gain. Making it even more fun, a week of rain turned the steep slopes in to mud slides. Add 200 runners on to the trail, and significant portions of the trail were completely unrunnable (at least for my skill set).IMG_5191


Nonetheless, it was a beautiful day in the forest. The weather was perfect and the trail adorned with purple, blooming flowers and yellow butterflies. Hard climbs resulted in magnificent views. The winding trail led runners to wade across streams dozens of times. Yet the course was really well marked. In 31 miles I never got lost once, with a couple of saves from the runners around me.

As the Possum adage says, “if you haven’t made a new friend you are doing it wrong”. I ran the first seven miles with a pack of 4-5 runners, including a Baptist preacher


A Baptist and a Methodist pastor run in to the woods…

and two women with matching compression socks. A handful of Possums ran offering words of encouragement and a mid-run save with the assistance of a foam roller. Aid station volunteers were phenomenal. At mile 26 the aid station cheered for me like I was Scott Jurek setting a course record, not like the gimpy middle aged man near the back of the pack I was.

After one last climb and one long zigzag down the switch back trails, I was back on the campus and soon across the finish line. While I finished with the slowest pace I have ever run in any race, in many ways completing the Big Turtle is one of the greatest accomplishments. I successfully managed a series of injuries and one tough IMG_5198trail. My nutrition and hydration were on point for a day that started cool and got rather warm. In ideal circumstances, I would have trained better for steep hill climbs and descents. But, life has been far from ideal. Yet we keep putting one foot in front of the other with relentless forward progress.



Hangry Community

At the start of the year, I said my goal for 2019 is to run with joy. This has not been a joyful year. I broke my arm in January and that has been about the easiest thing to deal with.

In March I ran well, but two weeks ago I pulled my hamstring. So today I went out to the hangry race just to find joy. As usual, I found it in the running community.

A community of people who put a coat on me when I under dressed to check people in this morning.

A community of 160 runners, who raised money to feed hungry people.

A community of accomplished athletes and first time warriors, where there is no distinction between the two.

A community where I crossed the finish line behind a grade school age girl and a senior citizen woman.

A community where the strongest finisher was my neighbor.

A community where the race directors have enough sense of humor to tolerate my chiding.

Today I ran my slowest 5K ever, but found joy in friends, high-fives, selfies, and the beloved community.

My own personal possum

This weekend is my second favorite run of the year, the Seamus O’Possum 30K. I will be out of state attending my sister’s wedding. So, I ran my own personal possum today.

For those of you running at Delaware State Park on Saturday, a few notes for you:

  1. This is not last year’s dry possum course, there are some muddy parts. I don’t want to overstate it. The vast majority of the course is very runnable, but there are some shorter wet parts. Have fun with it, don’t avoid it. Splash in puddles like a kid and have fun!
  2. Park maintenance was out today trimming trees. I dodged them the second half of the run. Be careful around mile 11-12 for small random tree parts. The logs have been removed but there are lots of pieces that would make for tripping hazards.
  3. The water crossing is not as high as I expected after this wet Ohio winter. A little more than ankle deep, but not bad at all.
  4. Overall, the course is in very good shape, not a lot of logs blocking the trail. Yes, there is some mud, but that’s what we love. Wish I could be with you on Saturday, but I left you some footprints to follow.


For me, this was a great run. By far, 18 miles is the farthest I’ve run since October. Just over six weeks ago I broke my arm. Today I completed a 30K. A great day!