It is easy to think that we as Hip running group are one tough breed. But that notion was trumped by the recent happenings at the Western States 100 Mile Ultra Run last week. One of the final finishers (before the 30 hour cutoff) was a 70 year old female runner named Gunhild Swanson. She lives here in Spokane and is the mother of Chris Morlan, the coach of my running team, “The Spokane Distance Project“. She became the oldest woman to ever complete the Western States 100 Miler and she did it in grand fashion, making it to the finish line with 6 seconds to spare before the 30 hour cut off. Twenty-nine hours…..fifty-nine minutes and fifty-four seconds. Wow!
Last Tuesday, after our SDP workout, we all gathered at coach Chris’s house and celebrated. Gunhild was there and Chris recapped some of the highlights that made her journey, and her amazing finish, even that more more incredible.
Each checkpoint of the race has to be reached before a certain time – the “cutoff time”. If you don’t reach the checkpoint, you are out. Throughout some of the early stages of the race, Gunhild flirted with the cutoff, coming within 20 minutes at one station, 15 minutes at another. Gunhild’s son, Chris Morlan was going to join her at a checkpoint to help through part of the race. He became worried that she wasn’t going to make it to the checkpoint in time. As he recapped the story, he spoke in an appreciative tone of how his son Turlan reassured him, telling him, he just HAD to have faith. Sure enough she made it to the check point and Chris and Turlan joined her over the next part of the race. Eventually, they gained time and were making it to checkpoints with more than an hour to spare before the cutoff. Things looked great! Then it happened. She followed a couple of runners the wrong way. They got lost. She lost 45 minutes. Devestating. She was again, up against the wall and barely making the cutoffs. At the final aid station, 1.3 miles away from the finish line, she only had 16 minutes left before the 30 hour cutoff. Could she do it? Her support team was going to do everything that they could to help her. The 2015 winner, Rob Krar who finished many hours earlier even came back to run with her and help her achieve this goal. The finish was epic. The bystanders helped with their loud cheers and Gunhild….she made it with 6 seconds to spare.
I get choked up every time I watch this video.
Here is another video from a different angle…
So when you get down about your hip replacement, maybe the training isn’t coming along like you’d like, or you’re not bouncing back as quickly as you’d like…..remember……keep your head high……….stay optimistic….and JUST….HAVE….FAITH.