The Simple and Wise Words of Kirk Apt

An essay about how long and tough ultramarathons require both patience and persistence in order to succeed.

By on September 13, 2019 | Comments

AJW's TaproomOver the past few weeks, I have been returning to old Hardrock 100 race reports as I begin my slow and inexorable build-up to the 2020 race. While it is still 10 months away, with some of the changes in my life over the past year, I feel like I am going to need every bit of that time to adequately prepare. As a result, I’ve been diving into the archives and one of the reports I read was Bob Crowley’s 32-page, single-spaced tome from his experience at the 2012 Hardrock.

Anyone who knows Bob Crowley knows that he is the consummate ‘details guy’ and his report is an exhausting testimony to that fact. However, more than the details, what struck me most in my recent reading of Bob’s report was how much he leaned on the advice of experienced race veterans. In the months leading up to Hardrock in 2012, Bob literally soaked up as much accumulated wisdom as he could and put it to good use in the race which he ultimately finished in 43 hours with a smile on his face and a spring in his step.

One of the most noteworthy Hardrock veterans who provided Bob with advice was Kirk Apt, the most experienced of all Hardrockers who has, at last count, 24 Hardrock finishes. When asked what the essential attributes for success at Hardrock were, Kirk answered simply, “patience and persistence.” And, after speaking with literally a dozen other veterans, Bob was convinced that Kirk was right and that patience and persistence are what it’s all about at Hardrock.

Kirk Apt running the 2017 Hardrock 100. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

Of course, patience and persistence can at times be at odds with one another. Remaining patient can necessitate pumping the brakes while at other times being persistent can require a sense of urgency in the midst of a struggle. Such is the delicate balancing act that the Hardrock 100 confronts us with. Additionally, as a two-time Hardrock finisher myself, I would say that not only are patience and persistence important during the race itself but also in the race preparation and training, as well. One must be patient enough to let the slow accrual of fitness evolve while remaining persistent enough to not let up in the training during crunch time as the race draws near.

And so it is that I have patiently and persistently begun my preparation for Hardrock 2020. As an aging, surgically compromised athlete, my preparation will be far different than it’s been in the past as I will perhaps spend as much time or more in the gym, in the pool, and on the bike than I will on the trail and I will need both patience and persistence in allowing my body to absorb what it can, accept what it must, and embrace what it should. With any luck, following in the footsteps of Bob, Kirk, and the rest, in a little more than 10 months, I’ll give that rock a smooch for the third time.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week comes recommended by 2019 Western States 100 second-place female finisher Brittany Peterson. It turns out that Brittany is quite a beer aficionado and in her hometown of Pocatello, Idaho she says we all must visit Jim Dandy Brewing and get a hold of The Westy, their double IPA that is loaded with West Coast hops in classic, old-school fashion and packs quite a punch at nearly 90 IBUs.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • At what times in your life and running have both patience and persistence been requisites for success?
  • And, has there ever been a time when either more patience than persistence has been required or vice versa?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.