2014 – Finding the Love, Again

by Craig

I think I’m on year #5 of writing this post. It’s odd to think that I’ve been running in the mountains and deserts for this long, that I have this much to look back on. Gratefully, I’m not looking back on the entirety of those 5 years, only the last 12 months. And then looking forward to 2015.

This past year I only ran one race. Hard to believe, even for me. And it was early, March, to be exact. I went into the Buffalo Run 100 with high hopes, only to walk away disappointed with the result. No excuses, it was my race to kill and I didn’t, simple as that. Not every race is going to be stellar, unfortunately this one was the last in a long line of poor races. So much so that I chose not to race anything for the rest of the year. Instead, I made adventure running my focus and by so doing rekindled my love for not only the trails and deserts of Utah, but also for the 100 mile distance.

2014 transitioned from a year of accomplishments to a year of relationships. It was something natural and nothing I sought after. I solidified existing ones; those so familiar already, but always fragile. Knowing that because of this year they are now immortalized makes me happy and comfortable. Then to rekindle old friendships that I never would have expected to resurface, how invigorating that is. I’m grateful for those. It means that over time, while people can change and be separated by distance and circumstance, friendships can remain and continue. Finally, to create new ones. Creating new acquaintances is simple, we do it every day. But having one develop into something truly genuine and real is rare. These are what I cherish most. This is what running is to me.

My relationship with nature is what drives me to move. 2014 offered moments of such clarity in that relationship that by November I had rekindled a relationship I felt had been tarnished through poor racing results.

Mine and Jennilyn’s blind attempt at the WURL (Wasatch Ultra Ridge Linkup) was that first moment of connectivity I had been longing for. I recall sections of the Cottonwood Ridge as I moved ahead of Jennilyn and Ben where I had instances of emotional kinship with my surroundings that were almost surreal. While the attempt itself was unsuccessful, what came from that was the beginnings of what would come to define my year.

Photo by Ben Eaton
Photo by Ben Eaton

Quest for King’s is always a highlight for me. I love the community that comes out to attack the Uintas. It  seemed that most people had some plan that differed from running just the actual peak this year. How exciting it is to see people tackle bigger goals than they previously thought possible. While not everyone was successful in their attempts, they definitely learned something about themselves and their relationships with the mountains. For myself, I found a greater love for being solo on bigger peaks. As I ran from King’s to Fortress Peak and back to Anderson Pass I rediscovered my passion for doing big mountains solo and hold that as one of the major accomplishments of 2014.

In 2011 I attempted to run the 110 mile long Skyline Drive with Davy Crockett. We got about half way through before we both called it quits due to some pretty severe mud for about 30 miles, so it has always been on my bucket list of things undone. I went back this year with Matt and Scott as my crew and tackled the end-to-end run solo. Running 112 miles alone (crew stops aside) is revelatory and an experience I truly cherished. I faced some demons on that run and came out victorious. Those lessons have and will continue to make me a better runner and person.

Photo by Scott Wesemann

My final 100 miler of the year was a somewhat impromptu Zion Double Crossing with Jennilyn. She wasn’t planning for a double and I didn’t think I would ever have any desire to do it again, but when she asked if I wanted to go to Zion I just blurted it out. The result was a new FKT and the best feeling 100 miler I’ve ever run. Beyond that, the moments of intimate connectivity with Zion National Park were so pronounced that I found a flame for running long distances I’m not sure have ever been comparable. Normally, after running 100 miles I am ready for some serious downtime. But after Zion all I wanted to  do was start planning my next big run.

Since that time I’ve run very little, by comparison. I’ve been dealing with a foot injury and generally not caring. I’ve renewed my membership to the climbing gym and have been enjoying what it feels like to have that movement back in my life. The past several weeks have offered me the ability to truly develop my relationships with friends again. I can’t express how grateful I am for each of those and I am excited for what the new year has to offer.

Photo by Aaron Williams

I owe a great deal to my sponsors. They have not just provided me with the essential gear I need to be successful, but they have given me the confidence and support to succeed in my adventures. While I’ll say goodbye to a couple of them in 2015 I will continue to support them and promote them, as appropriate.
Altra Running – I wore the Lone Peak 2.0 and Torin 1.5 for most of the year. What awesome shoes. Truly game-changing.
Ultraspire – I’ve always pegged myself as a Spry fan, but if I’m really honest I have to admit that the Revolution is my favorite vest.
Gnarly Nutrition – I live and die by Boost when I’m running. Being able to dictate how powerful I want it really matters. And knowing that what it offers me in the way of electrolytes is invaluable.

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