The enormity of the run didn't really register in my mind when I first opened the email from Barb Klinner.
The message came to me while I was on vacation in New York, reading on a smartphone and probably a bit loopy from the fumes that hang in the air on the East Coast, which smells of a high-school locker room and diesel smoke. Barb was just touching base, asking about my athletic endeavors and writing about how her 80-year-old father had just done a fun run, and at the end, there was a link, which she said, by the way, is her latest endeavor. I clicked on the link, but when it didn't load in a microsecond, I grew impatient and closed the file.
It wasn't until a couple weeks later that I remembered the email. I was able to make the link and realized that Barb intended to run 120 miles in an effort to raise money for Treyden's Cabin, a special pediatric oncology waiting room at Marshfield Clinic in Marshfield. Treyden was a 1-year-old Stratford boy who died of leukemia in June, and his parents, Cassie and Travis, are working to raise $50,000 to create the space.
Still, it wasn't gelling in my mind. I've known Barb for years now, and she's always doing something that most people consider crazy. You know, running ultramarathons, offering a kidney to strangers, stuff like that.
But I worked the weekend of Oct. 26 and 27 when she planned to run 120 miles on the Mountain-Bay Trail, and wrote about the story. I ran five miles with her, beginning at 5 a.m. Saturday.
Then I went to work. Throughout the day, I received texts from Barb's husband, Mark. Things like: "Barb's thru Bowler (mile 28.3) @ 11:30. Looking strong." And they kept on coming. Sunday, 3:16 a.m.: "Through Thornton @3:15. Mile 80!"
Then I began to realize just how momentous it all was.
I met Barb on the trail Sunday with six miles to go. "Oh, this has kicked my a--," she said. Still she struggled to the finish line about 36 hours after she started. It was amazing. And, I believe, important.
I'll never run 120 miles, and it's likely you won't either. But we all can learn from Barb's run, about just how far a bit of confidence and a lot of stubbornness can take us. We can all find our own metaphoric 120-mile run, and make it happen. Inspiration is important, I believe, and it can make a difference.