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
fanfare
& stumbled

out
the village
up a long
hill

to a cabin

you were
there
& others
I do not know
who

but outside,

a large
grey wolf
circled
attacking
at

the door
& windows
it went
on like that
forever

until I
realized
I must
do something

so I caught
the wolf
in my arms
it shrank
to

a
wet otter
& yet still
wolfish
& then

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

so
we carried it
down the
hill

together, left
the others

& the
ransacked
cabin to
find

the village
veterinarian
she said
it is
too

late
there is
nothing I
can do

& I
started
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?