Of all the traits that I admire in ultrarunners by far the most significant trait is consistency. There is something about this sport that requires it, demands it and, in the end, rewards it.
We see it in so many aspects of the ultrarunners life. The training requires an often mind-numbing regularity. Get up, run, get through the day, eat, sleep, repeat. Over and over. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year. The race calendar provides some structure to this pattern and also inspires and motivates us. But, in the end, the desire to succeed in ultrarunning requires an almost machine-like attention to simply getting it done. And, if you think consistency is hard, go check out the September 2001 Ultrarruning Magazine results and see how many runners listed in the results there are still running today.
And all that, my friends, is why I am awed and inspired by Jennifer Pharr-Davis. Less than a week from now, barring a major disaster, Jennifer will establish a new standard for speed on the most storied trail in our country, the Appalachian Trail. Assuming she gets to the southern end of the trail in time (47 days and 13 hours from the start) she will have set the record. And, not just any record, but a record that has been passed between Horton and Thompson, attempted by Meltzer, others, etc...Oh yeah, Jennifer is also a woman! I dare say, this is downright Trasonesque.
Now, I don't know Jennifer (or her husband Brew, what an awesome name!) but I can assure you she is tough. Physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically. And, I hope to have the honor of meeting her some day. Her consistency on this journey has been downright scary. Up every morning at 4:30am, on the trail shortly after 5, wrapping up the day around 8:50pm she has clipped off 45-55 mile days like it's nothing. Day after day, mile after mile, she has simply put one foot in front of the other and gotten it done. Faster than anyone else, ever. I would love to be there with her on that last day. I hope she rips off a 100!
Over the next few days I'll be following Jennifer's progress and I urge you to do the same. Doing something well, better, and faster than anyone else ever has, requires something few of us have. Doing it for seven consecutive weeks is uncanny. From my perspective, it's worth celebrating, savoring, and honoring.