How the Running Community Builds Friendships

It’s 2:45AM.  There is a loud noise just outside my window.  It’s the sound of a V8 truck with an exhaust.  My first thought was, “My Neighbors must hate us.”  My friend Kasey is coming to my house to start off a day that means not only a lot to him, but to me as well.

To put this in perspective, let me give you some background.  I moved to California in August immediately after North American OCR Championships and slept on Kasey’s couch.  I had known Kasey from work.  He was a fantastic host.  He showed me all the local bars and breweries and also introduced me to some great, and super unhealthy, local eateries.  Since I was dealing with a hand injury the break felt good, but I could tell I was falling apart physically.  Finally, once work settled down and I had found a place to live on my own I started back to running again.  I invited Kasey on a hike, and talked him in to an 8 mile one in North Bay.  To say Kasey struggled was an understatement.  He tried to run a mile but physically couldn’t.  His feet were so blistered at the end of the hike that he could barely walk away from the car when we were done.  This was November of last year.

This morning Kasey and I are competing in a virtual 24 hour race.  The goal being to run 5 miles every four hours for 24 hours.  We’ve decided to add an extra mile on the first loop to make sure Kasey completes his first ever 50K.  That’s right, I said Kasey was going to do a 50K, only 5 months earlier he could not run a single mile.  As we trotted off into the morning I started to reflect on a lot of amazing things that trail running and OCR has brought me.  It seems to always circle back to one common thread.  The people that I am around are truly amazing.

While we ran, I remembered the days of not being able to run a mile myself.  I remember a friend I worked with that was a trail runner who had invited me out, just like I was doing for Kasey now, to introduce me to an amazing lifestyle and group of people that would literally transform me.  He introduced me to Nick and Tracy of Run816 in Kansas City.  They introduced me to my running coach Coleen who I can STILL hear in the back of my head to “F*#KING MOVE” and “Don’t go out like an [email protected]@hole”.  I still reach out to them years later for shoe advice and running help.

Kasey and I are about 12 hours in.  Our legs both feel great and we are in very good spirits.  At this point he’s now run farther than he ever has in his life.  We are at 16 miles.  I can sense the uneasiness in his voice but his spirits remain high.  He’s trusting me, he’s trusting the process that we have been working off of for the last 5 months.  A process that has taken influence from so many great runners and so many failures and successes.  You can tell he’s confident that we will complete this today.

This sent me back to remembering when I first moved away from my family and friends to Atlanta.  From there I remember meeting my friend Vikki.  She introduced me to so many new trails.  I learned to find the peace in being completely lost on a trail.  I remember looking constantly for new trails and more hills!  I fell in love with the climbing and looking for the newest and greatest views.  I fell in love with struggling with other runners and really getting introduced to the Ultra-running life.  I was truly in love with the sport and then I met Scott, Hobbie, and Craig to race and run with.  They all loved the sport every bit as much as me and for all the same reasons.  What I was reminded of in Atlanta was that I truly loved how many people the sport introduced me too – and no matter the person, the background, the pace, or the conditioning I was inspired by everyone I was meeting.  Just being around them made me a better person.

Kasey and I are now on loop 5 of 6 total. The legs hurt and all we can think about is getting that finisher beer that we had arranged for earlier in the day. The sufferfest is on yet as we plug along I realize, we are still running and still moving forward. We are still laughing. I’m realizing how much we as people need not only physical support but emotional support as well. We are encouraging each other as the muscle tightness sets in and the sun begins to set over the bay. Being awake for 17 hours is turning out to be more mental than physical.

After Atlanta my company moved me to Durham, North Carolina.  Once again I found myself in a place with no friends or family.  However, I knew I could find runners and if my past was correct, they would be great people.  I wasn’t disappointed.  I found a run group from a brewery on Wednesdays nights in Durham where I met Dave.  Dave was fast – real fast.  I ran with him nearly every day.  I also met the Raleigh Trail Runners.  Getting long runs in both Saturdays and Sundays really helped me keep my sanity. I loved it there.  I loved the running there. Most importantly, I loved the people there.

Kasey and I are finishing the end of it.  We have now been awake for 24 hours and he has completed his first ever Ultra.  I’m almost in tears as I realize that he has truly become a runner and is now properly hooked on the sport that have given so much to me.  Kasey is now on that list of really inspiring people I’ve met through my years of racing and running.  I could write an entire blog thanking literally everyone I have met and telling you how they have helped me along the way.  Here is one thing I know – Kasey falls into that long list of people that are a real part of my heart and soul.  I make sure that all the brands and teams I represent share this same passion, not only for the sport, but more importantly for the people that are in it.  Literally coast to coast, I can’t thank you all enough and I’m so excited for all this craziness to end so I can continue to be inspired by those of you I choose to surround myself with.  See you all on the trails, at the obstacles, and of course in the beer line after. #finisherbeer

by LegendBorne Ambassador
Jake Diehl
@OCRJake42