The Trail Ultramarathon I will always remember.

I farted in a guy’s face during my first ever trail ultra. That day was a defining moment in my life.

The trail ultra that I think about at least once a month is the first race that I did over the marathon distance.

It was in California in March 2006 and the race is called Way Too Cool 50k. It takes place in little township also called Call in Northern California and incorporates some of the Western States Trail. It was the first long distance run I’ve done more than a marathon. I approached the race with a huge amount of excitement and I was also shit-scared.

Way Too Cool was a fair bit further than I’d ever run before. And the word ultramarathon just really scared the pants off me. Being scared, it also spurred me into a huge amount of training and I was extremely dedicated and diligent in my approach to that race.

There were a lot of highlights in that race. I remember running with a group of friends to Auburn Lake Trails which is about halfway through the course and just having a great time with a lot of like minded runners.

On the way back on one of the steepest hills coming out of Browns Bar I bent over to put my hands on my knees to power up a very ugly steep hill. At that moment, I farted. Because the hill was so steep, the runner behind me had his face pretty much at my butt-level. “Gee thanks” he said. Sorry -I replied. It was quite the fart – and I am sure that runners three or four back would have heard it. That’s trail ultras for ya.

When I finished that race, it was a transformative moment in my life.

I remember running along the hard-packed red dirt by the roadside and turning the final right hand corner and crossing the finish line. Greg Soderlund – The Race Director was there.  I basically collapsed into his arms and gave him a hug and the emotion just poured out. I just started crying and crying and crying.

For me it was truly a special moment – not just because I’d run the 50k distance – but because where I had come from to get there from being unhealthy and to being overweight and lonely to accomplishing something that was, to me, truly remarkable. It was a special time and pivotal to where the journey of the last 11 years of my life where this journey was born.

It fuelled the desire to give back to people – something equally transformative in their own lives.

Tim, myself and the Tarawera team are so lucky to do what we do with our trail running events. That feeling the moment you cross the finish line, the hours, days and weeks after. Don’t lose it. Hold onto it, harness it and use it to create good in your lives and for those around you.

That moment was 11 years ago and the memory is just as strong today as it was back then. I’d like to think that Greg Soderlund would be proud of what we’re doing today. The sport of trail running has changed so much in those 11 years but the feelings that it creates has not.

Everybody has their own story. The emotions that we see at the finish line – we know they come from somewhere real. We can never know all the stories and behind those finish-line tears – we just know we’re lucky to witness them and play a role in people’s lives – even if for just one day a year.

 

– Paul Charteris
Rotorua, October 2017.

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