Running 40 miles is an absurd distance. Just consider for a moment what 40 miles is. That is, on average, 80,000 steps or 211,200 feet. If the average person started walking that distance, it would take about 13 hours to complete. For the 40 mile run I am referring to, unlike other long distance races, there is no medal, no official timing, nothing tangible that would signify to anyone else that it has personal significance. If you dig into reason behind the run, you’ll see that it shouldn’t be any other way.
As a disclaimer, I managed to get through 32 of the 40 miles in our Winter Solstice run. And I’d say from mile 22 going forward I was limp run/walking. So when the term “running” is used, it should be interpreted loosely. Briefly, I’ll catch you up on what the Winter Solstice run is.
The Winter Solstice run supports Project Congo. Project Congo is a branch of a nonprofit called On the Ground whose goal is to aid communities that Amavida and the rest of our Fairtrade co-op sources coffee from. Systemic issues such as access to fresh water, crop fungus, lack of educational infrastructure, and gender equality are primary targets for the initiative.
It’s genuinely hard to explain what the last 10 miles of the race felt like. In retrospect, better preparation when it comes to water and nutrition would have made the experience less excruciating but honestly there comes a point in running that it becomes a balance in the mind of suppressing/embracing the pain. At the time, I could only wrap my head around my own personal journey through each painful step; each one carrying me a negligible amount of distance forward towards the end. I could appreciate how beautiful the trail was, how much of an impact our fundraiser had made even before we began running, but only for fleeting moments while I mentally steeled myself against the next foot fall.
What’s remarkable to me is the shared experience with the other runners. Each one of the runners whether they were going the full 40 miles or enjoying mimosas on the final 10, had their own story. But together we took steps towards a central goal. Collectively, we ran 412 miles. That’s 824,000 steps or 2,175,360 feet. If one person were to have attempted that distance alone it would, on average, take 134 hours to walk but together we completed in about 12.
It makes sense to be in your own moment. At times it’s the only thing you can do to put one foot in front of the other. But as long as we continue to move forward, the mountains we climb together is something alone we could only dream of.