Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Veterans and Trail/Ultra Runners Building Community on the Neuces River

I spent Veterans Day weekend at Camp Eagle along the Neuces River in Texas. Team Red, White, and Blue along with Liza Howard and her team, sponsored a trail running camp. Elites and volunteers from the trail running and ultra marathon community came together to teach, mentor and inspire veterans in the sport of trail running. Prior to this camp I had limited trail-running experience from when I was stationed at FT. Polk, Louisiana and the Spartan race I participated in. I started camp FIRED UP about learning something new, and left on Monday even MORE ENERGIZED than before.  It was an incredible experience.

A total of 80 Veterans/ Active Duty military members came to the camp. All had different experiences, some were wounded veterans/ wounded warriors, some were still on active duty, and some had been out of the service for a while.  Some were in outstanding physical shape, where others were just getting back into making physical fitness a part of the daily routine.

The camp was challenging. Each day there were 2- 3 hours of ability group running and 3 hours of classes. The group runs served to challenge us physically but also connected us with other veterans and members of the trail running community. 

 For one of the clinics my group got to run with Dave James and Katie DeSplinter, both who are ultra-marathoners. Dave recently broke the course record at the Javelina100.  Katie recently won the Ozark100.They both gave great advice to the group during the clinics on running on challenging terrain.

Joe Prusaitis who is a ultra-marathoner, operates Tejas Trails.com, and a trail running coach, spoke about trail running being stress free and gave this advice “Run like a 10 year ol if you want to run stress free and run better.“

Another ultra-runner who I spent some time with was Matt Hart. He won the Tahoe 100 and also completed the Nolan 14. He completed it in 58 hours. Only a handful of people have completed the Nolan14 in which athletes run 14, 14,000 FT peaks in Colorado. Matt is a great person who shared his experiences and got veterans FIRED UP and inspired about physical fitness

I also got to hang out with Meghan Hicks who writes for I RunFar.com  I shared my story with her and not sure if it registered right away that I really do tick when I run. But after one of the runs she heard me ticking and she made the connection. It was a funny moment.

We were privileged to hear ultra-marathon legend Marshall Ulrich speak. He shared his experiences in overcoming adversity, which several veterans (including myself) could relate to. It was a powerful story and he shared how he turned to physical fitness to overcome and CRUSH the challenges life had thrown at him.

After each day was over veterans, volunteers, and members of the trail running/ ultra-marathon community had a chance to connect and buildrelationships. Sunday after the 5K obstacle course run there was a huge TEXAS sized BBQ which was a great time for all. Everyone was able to socialize and build on the relationships that had been formed the previous two days CRUSHING the trails at Camp Eagle.

The three days at Camp Eagle was an extremely positive experience for me and for the others that attended either as volunteers or as veterans. It was another great example of the POWER of TEAM and EXERCISE.


1 comment:

  1. Great recap Jonathan! We all had a blast and the inspiration was a two way street for sure man. Steven (group D).