David sent me the following in an email earlier today:
- I was blessed to set the speed record on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in 1991 and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 2005. Last year, I attempted to set the speed record on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). These are the big three trails that constitute the Triple Crown. I stopped at the end of day one on the CDT. I had serious issues with the heat and feared for my life in the 108 degree temperatures. I do not like running in the heat or dessert. I felt that I needed to do something to redeem myself because of last year. The record on the Colorado Trail is 8 days and 12 hours for the 485 miles. I stopped at the end of day 6, being on schedule and covering 330 miles. I feel that I failed on the CDT last year but I do not feel that I failed on the CT. I did the best that I could but was it just was not good enough.
I had a GREAT crew. Jonathan Basham (JB) held the CT speed record until it was broken last summer by just over 1 hour. He had also crewed Andrew Thompson on his Appalachian Trail speed record in 2005. Travis and Alyssa Wildeboer of Winter Park Colorado are experienced ultrarunners who were also GREAT crew members. Larry Haak, formerly of Lynchburg VA, now of Boulder Colorado was also on hand the whole week to provide great help and encouragement.
I appreciate all that Clark Zealand did to keep everyone updated on my progress. It means a lot to me for what he did and it means a lot to me that what I was doing was of interest to so many of you. I hope it was an encouragement to you in some way.
Going after the CT record might have been my most difficult multi-day attempt so far. The CT record is very TOUGH. The trail itself was tougher than I thought it would be. I averaged 40 miles per day on the PCT and AT and 45 miles per day running across America. Averaging over 54 miles per day on the CT was VERY tough. I started very day before daylight, usually around 4:00 AM and finished every day after dark. My average time on the trail was around 17 hours per day. This left very little time for anything. I was usually in bed 30 to 45 minutes after finishing each day. Each day, the last section ATE my lunch. It took everything that I had to finish each day. I never knew at night if I would be able to go again the next day.
I had a number of physical problems as you would expect. Starting from day one, I had a hard time eating enough for the entire 6 days. I know that I did not consume enough food any one day. I have ulcerative colitis. As a result I have to dump a lot and I mean a LOT. For the first few days, I was going to bathroom 20 to 30 times per day. That leads to dehydration and not absorbing enough nutrients either. On the second day, I started having blood in the urine. I had this to happen to me on the AT as well. It continued happening through day 5. This concerned me as well. I was also having some pain in the groin area. I was concerned with all of these problems but thought that maybe they were not too serious.
Day 6 should have been an easy day but it was not. We got lost before daylight and ran 4 miles off course. Later in the day it was very hot and the dry heat started sucking the life out of me. In the middle of the days my hands started swelling, sausage fingers you say. I have had them before but NEVER as big as they got this time. In the last section of the day, I became very concerned about them and how big can they get before damage occurs. On the back of my hands, the skin stuck grossly very high. My forearms started swelling all the way up to my elbows. It was getting tighter and tighter. How big can they get?? What damage can occur?? I was also thinking about the next day as it was going to be the toughest day yet, over 60 miles with one road crossing. I knew the possibility that if I got in trouble in this section that I would put myself and my crew in a serious problem. I knew then that I must stop. Could I have run the next day? Yes. Could I have caused myself or others some serious problems? Yes.
Stopping something like this is very difficult. I often think that we quit or stop just because it is hard and we are not tough enough. That thought was definitely going through my mind. But, I thought about my family and kids and grandkids and my job teaching at Liberty and directing races and helping other runners become better, and I knew that I needed to live for these things to occur. I made the right decision.
I just thank the Lord for what he allows me to do and I thank Him for using me in some small way. Thank you all who prayed for me during this attempt. Will there be others?? I don’t know. I am in Arkansas spending time with my father (86) and mother (81). My wife and daughter and grandkids will be here later this week. This is a special time with them.
My tongue with the canker sores on them are getting better, my feet are still very puffy, I do not have any blood in my urine now, life is good. I am still not sleeping well yet, but that will come. I already miss the cool weather of the Rockies. For a month the lowest elevation that I was at was 5500 feet.
I hope that God blesses all of you as he has blessed me. Seek your dreams and goals.