I've never really liked running. I generally run out of necessity, either to exercise while traveling or prepare for the third leg of a triathlon. I consider a half marathon a long run and have completed nine runs of that distance (three as part of Ironman 70.3 distance tris and one as part of a marathon relay).
So the thought of running 50 miles in one day is staggering to me. But that's what my friend Dane Rauschenberg did this past week -- every day for seven straight days -- running Highway 101 from California to Washington, stopping along the way to speak to school kids about the importance of being physically active and "ignoring the impossible."
|Dane and Beefman|
On Monday I sat down for a steak dinner with Dane at Henry's Tavern in Portland (he ordered his favorite post race meal, a top sirloin steak with blue cheese) less than 24 hours after he finished his run. As he recounted the week (with occasional help on the details from Shannon, his crew on the run), I was reminded of stories from past Ride the Rockies, from the incredible highs, like cresting the top of a 12,000 ft. pass, to the exhausting task of setting up camp, getting cleaned up (body and clothes), finding food and getting up day after day to do it all again.
Dane shared stories of battling wind, rain, and hail, friends joining him for runs along the route, stopping to speak to school kids, climbing 900 ft. hills to finally crossing the Astoria-Megler Bridge over the Columbia River into Washington.
Speaking to the school kids was definitely one of the highs, Dane said, and he left each event feeling reenergized and ready to hit the road. However, these events also presented a major logistical challenge as the timing of his speeches didn't always line up perfectly with the timing of his run. Often the Team BEEF crew had to pick him up along the route, transport him to a school, then return him to the point where he left off to continue his run, sometimes well into the night.
|The Franklin High School (Portland, OR) track team joins Dane Rauchenberg for a one-mile "recovery" run the day after his Pacific Coast 350-mile run.|
Regardless of the challenge it presented, Dane said reaching hundreds of school children with a message of the importance of physical activity was the most rewarding part of the run.
I attended Dane's final speech to a group of students at Franklin High School in Portland on Monday. It was great to see 200 kids wearing "Beef. Fuel for the Finish" t-shirts listening intently as Dane shared his story. They also asked lots of questions, wanting to know what he ate along the run (beef, of course!) and what shoes he wore (Altra Zero Drop). "I don't care if you want to become a great runner or a great painter," Dane told the students, "just set your goals high and work hard to achieve them."
Following his speech Dane led the students in a one-mile "recovery" run around the dilapidated track at this inner city school. I joined them for the run, figuring this would be the only time I'd be able to keep pace with my good friend! As we ran, one student, a Franklin High track team member also named Dane wanted to know how to begin training for an ultra marathon. He was obviously inspired by Dane's story and wanted to follow in his footsteps. He also wanted a Team BEEF jersey so I promised to send him one!
During dinner Shannon shared the story of one of the students Dane met this week -- an overweight teenage girl. She was working at the fast food chain where Shannon stopped to pick up a cheeseburger for Dane. When Shannon explained who the food was for ("I told everyone I met what he was doing," Shannon explained) she told Shannon she had heard Dane speak earlier in the day and he had motivated her to start walking to work one day a week.
I heard Dane say many times that if he could motivate one student to start moving the Pacific Coast 350 would be a success. Well, Dane, I think you achieved your goal, not only running all 350 miles (and then some) but motivating others along the way. Congratulations!
I am proud to call this amazing and inspiring man my friend.
P.S. Dane asked me to write the foreword to his new book due out next month. Dane shared a few chapters with me and I am anxious to read the rest of his thoughts on life lessons from his first 100 marathons.