100-Mile Poetry

[Editor’s Note: In our Community Voices column this month, we are honored to share the poetry of Nathan Toben. Nathan is a bike courier living and training in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Akin to his long-term approach to ultramarathon training, with poetry, he puts in small but focused efforts each day; trusting that this reiterative practice will result in coherent skills and that such clarified living will benefit his health and the lives of those around him. When not on the bike or helping his fiancé build a tiny home on wheels, he can be found out in the woods, chipping away at what he calls the “near-improbable task of jumping up from sub-elite to elite 100-mile runner.” In this column each month, we showcase the work of a writer, visual artist, or other creative type from within our global trail running and ultrarunning community. Our goal is to tell stories about our sport in creative and innovative ways. Read more about the concept in our launch article. We invite you to submit your work for consideration!]

The Wolf of Lapland

I dreamt
I raced
along trails
in Finland

I finished
to meek
& stumbled

the village
up a long

to a cabin

you were
& others
I do not know

but outside,

a large
grey wolf

the door
& windows
it went
on like that

until I
I must
do something

so I caught
the wolf
in my arms
it shrank

wet otter
& yet still
& then

I noticed
it was sick,
rabid, trying
to nip at

we carried it
down the

together, left
the others

& the
cabin to

the village
she said
it is

there is
nothing I
can do

& I
to cry
& noticed

I was standing
on the finish line.

[Author’s Note: I dreamt this while tapering for the 2018 Pinhoti 100 Mile.]

The Post 100-Mile Earworm

Breath, footfall, anguish & bargaining.
Inoculant paradiddles decaying off in
long, uneven fades of hungry applause.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Do longer ultramarathons and their preparation cause unique dreams or creative thought in you, too?
  • Have you any ultramarathon-inspired poetry to share?

There are 3 comments

  1. Nathan Toben

    Thank you for including me in your “Community Voices” column, Meghan. With all the time we spend alone, moving through wild spaces, art seems like a logical extension of a dedicated trail running practice. Just to pass on the good vibes, I am completely floored by the paintings of a fellow ultrarunner, Andrew Thomas Catanese. The dude is scary fast too.


  2. Andrew Catanese

    Thanks Nathan! Just came to say how much I love seeing your poems posted on Instagram. It’s always wonderful to see how people interpret their world into art! Looking forward to running with you again, hard to believe pinhoti was 9 months ago!

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