Five years of bad ideas

Five Octobers ago I showed up at the starting line for the Des Plaines River Trail Races ready to run 50 miles. It was my first official ultramarathon, and also the beginning of a long series of bad ideas that are now for some reason recorded for all to see on a website called UltraSignup. I never asked anyone to keep track of my bad ideas.

Originally I had planned to make this one of those long and annoying “Things I’ve learned from ____ years of ultrarunning” blog posts, but then I remembered I haven’t learned anything and still don’t know what I’m doing, so I guess I’ll just […]

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How to drink your own piss: A Nolan’s 14 story

Summit shot on number 14. From left, some guy, Wade, and Walt. Photo credit: Some hiker on Massive.

Prologue

One morning in May I drank my own piss. One afternoon in June my dad died of cancer. Those two statements are loosely related. I don’t remember July or August, but earlier this month I finished Nolan’s 14, and I find myself unable to write about it without weaving in themes of piss and death. My father’s passing is still fresh on my mind, and like Nolan’s 14 it’s a surreal and difficult thing to experience and process. So I guess what I’m saying is — I wrote a story […]

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That was a bad idea

Nolan’s 14 was a learning experience for everyone involved. Everyone had a good time however, and is ready to try it again next year. – Fred Vance, Ultrarunning, November 1999

Approaching Nolan’s 14 I knew it would be difficult and to some extent crazy, but now having attempted it I can say that it’s also pretty funny, too, at least in a black comedy kind of way, like a standup show where the comic dies laughing at his own joke. Was I disappointed in myself for quitting after 10 peaks? Sure. Did I break down and cry on the Colorado Trail the morning after? Maybe. The point is, I can’t […]

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