Monday, June 29, 2015

I Have a New Hero

It's hard to believe it's been a year. A year ago today I was out on the Western States trail pacing my friend John to his first 100 mile finish line. This year I stayed home. Last year I missed my oldest daughter's birthday to be at Western States. This year is her 16th birthday. I needed to be with my family.

John ran again this year so I relegated myself to following the race online and getting text updates from his friends. As I watched the webcast though, I missed it all. I'd like to go out there again to work the race. It's an experience unlike any other...

An experience unlike any other...

Shortly after the race ended one of his friends texted me a link to a finish line video. Western States posts all the racers finish line videos on their Facebook page. It was the finish line video of Gunhild Swanson. Last person to finish the race in 29:59:54 - 6 seconds under the 30 hour cut off. Gunhild Swanson is 70 years old. Today I saw her post-race interview.

She's my new hero. What she did at the end of her race is beyond amazing. If you read my post from last year's race, you can see that we struggled with that 30 hour cut off time for almost the entire race. When we reached Robie Point at mile 98.9, we had 62 minutes to go the 1.3 miles to the finish line but it was never a sure thing until we reached the track at Placer High School. John finished with 33 minutes to spare and I was having a heart attack the whole time. I was so emotionally spent at the finish that I had to leave before they blew the final horn at 30 hours. I had heard that sometimes there are runners still on the track at 30 hours that miss the cut off. I didn't think I could handle seeing that after our own team racing the clock the whole race.

Now, THIS WOMAN, takes a wrong turn late in the race - so she ends up running more than 100.2 miles - then gets to Robie Point with 17 minutes to get to the finish line! She finally gets on the track with just over 90 seconds left. You enter the track just after the second turn so it's about another 300 meters to the finish line. She had to run that at a 7:00 pace to make it! I remember at the end of the Derby Marathon this year I was running as hard as I could to finish... and it took me 2:27 to run my last 0.2 miles. This woman is not only 24 years older than me, she also had another 74 miles on her legs and runs it in 90 seconds.

Yes, I want to be Gunhild Swanson when I grow up.

1 comment:

  1. My biggest takeaway from her interview: never count yourself out. I'm definitely going to remember her when I don't think I have anything left. I so love your perspective, too - how rare to have set foot out there.