A lot of steps into the unknown.
Fifty more miles of them actually. This will be the furthest I have ever run.
It all began in 2012 when I went to the little hick town of Silverton, Colorado to crew Joe Grant on a race called the Hardrock 100. I knew next to nothing about it, except that it was nearly impossible to get an entry and there were a lot of big mountains included.
“Follow the little silver/orange tags, which you won’t really be able to see, and there is no real trail… but just get up the hill,” flowed the voice of TK as I got dropped on the way up Handies–my first 14er ever. I panted my way to the top, trying to follow the pin-sized humans I was chasing for dear life. “I thought we were going to run on the course?!” I puffed. “This is the course!” replied the rested voice of Dbo who had both been waiting for me forever.
Then in 2013, again I was challenged. In the rugged, isolated, lonely, inaccessible, striking, picturesque, and challenging trails from Gosainkund to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. The Everest Sky Race. Fifteen days; nine kilograms on my back; six to 12 hours per day; dry heat and dust; torrential rainfalls and mud; insatiable hunger and thirst; exotic bites; deep cuts; red infections; swollen muscles; and torn, twisted, and broken bones and ligaments. The beauty of this absurdity pushed us all on. These were all ‘normal’ people, doing what I felt was the impossible. Until I did it. I found new levels of agony, sense of achievement, my own ability, the power of mankind.
I was sold.
Hardrock was in my blood. The calm, the brutality, the climate, the massifs, the times challenging yourself to somewhere you haven’t been before. I wanted an entry.
So the task, get an entry: I need to do a specific qualifier, which is usually a 100 miler! And it needs to be done before November 1. I check the list and the Bear 100 takes my eye. Because of the potential to see one of these mystery bears that everyone is always talking about? Maybe. That it is in prime fall-colour time? Perhaps. That is wasn’t too flat and fast so I could do some powerhiking? Probably. Or just that I was intrigued? Yes.
It is two days out. I am entered. I am fit. I am healthy. I was scared and excited, now I am just calm. I have no idea about a lot of things that will or will not happen. I am intrigued to find out. I have an experienced crew that gives me confidence and will take all sorts of shoes, clothes, and food for me to try. I have loving and giving pacers, who will be my sanity and force when I loose my will. I have the support of all of you, who have given me the inspiration to go. Patience, pace, discomforts. All to be respected and followed. To find out something new. To take the step. To take a lot of steps into the unknown.
To follow along on a lot of these unknown steps you can go to Twiinkly for live photo updates.
“Chase that bear like you’re riding a buffalo.” –Brandon Stapanowich
[Editor’s Note: We chatted with Anna about her impending go at 100 mile in our post-The Rut 50k video interview with Anna.]