So here you go. Here are the best of the best. Here are the people who’s stories inspired us and the people who kept their chin up through trial after trial this year.
In the spirit of improvement, lets start with the Epic Manure award first. (While the Title of the award is a bit misleading, Joanne could just have easily won the Gnar Boss award as well!!)
Joanne Feinberg: Your Champion and her story!
In July, 2016, I tore my meniscus trail running in Hawaii. I was 56, and since I started running only 8 years ago, I thought that maybe I would escape some of the typical wear and tear injuries that come with aging! And because I had not been an athlete growing up, I was unfamiliar with injuries and the recovery process. I was bummed. After reading the research, and consulting with a surgeon who told me to stop running all together and find another sport, I decided not to have surgery—to rest and rehab instead, and ignore his advice. I was going to run again. After many difficult months of no running, and work with a great PT, I was finally running pain free again, and was making plans to train for my 2nd 100 miler. I went out for a short run one beautiful spring day on the new Fell on Knee trail with my 17 year-old daughter who had caught the running bug too. We were having a great time, until I caught my toe, flew through the air, and yup, fell on my knee on Fell on Knee, on to a rock—hard. I limped home, afraid that I had injured my knee cap. I should add that it was not the previously injured knee that I fell on… At home icing, I realized the small cut on my knee that I hadn’t really paid much attention to, wouldn’t stop bleeding. It was deep and I needed stitches. To make a long story shorter, the cut was infected, and I spent many, many weeks on antibiotics, fighting a resistant bacteria, and I was forbidden to run!
Late this summer, I started running again: carefully, slowly, very short runs, and mostly on the road. Today, I am feeling great, back on trails, and up to almost 40 miles a week. I have plans for a marathon in March. It’s been a tough year and a half, but things are looking up! My biggest take-away is how deep my love of running runs 🙂 I had some dark moments when I thought I should give it up and switch to another sport, but I kept what I’ve learned from training for ultra-marathons in mind: one foot in front of another, maintain a sustainable pace, look around at the spectacular scenery, enjoy the moment, and most likely you will make it to the finish line––in this case––the recovery line.
Gnar Boss Awards
Your Gnar Boss: Andrew Erickson
Andrew has always been the one to set his goals high and do everything he can to achieve them. This was all the more important this past cross country season because it was his senior year, but not only this, he had also lost his past 2 cross country seasons due to illness and injury (sophomore year to mono and junior year to a fractured lumbar vertebrae). Because of this, Andrew put extra stress on accomplishing his goals this past season and playing a pivotal role on the team. Although Andrew ultimately did not achieve his goals (being all conference and all region) he ran his heart out every race and by the end of the season he was our 5th guy at regionals which helped the team to qualify for our first ever NCAA D3 national championship in cross country, where he was also our 5th guy. I think Andrew’s attitude, dedication, and passion for the sport was truly shown at our conference meet where he gutted it out even through extreme dehydration (like the kid literally pissed blood after the race and was extremely delirious). Not only did Andrew have a killer season, but if it weren’t for him, this team would not have had the success that it did and, because of this, I think Andrew deserves the gnar boss of the year award!
Honorable Mention: Mallory Herzberg
2017 has been a year of trials and tribulations for me! At the end of 2016 I decided that I needed to make a change, I was about 30 pounds overweight. I have always been a runner but wanted to take it more serious. I did my first half marathon in 2016 and ran it in just under 3 hours.. which at the time I thought was great! My goal was to complete a half marathon in 2 hours once I reached my goal weight. I began eating healthy and really dedicating myself to improving my run times.
By February I had lost about 16 pounds and was feeling great! However, there was a horrible pain in hip that was keeping me from running, I was devastated! I went to the doctor and got an MRI. About a week later I got the news, I had a fracture on my femoral neck in my left hip. The treatment? Either 3 pins in my hip to support the fracture or stay off my leg for 12 to 18 weeks and use crutches, I chose the later. Crushed, I decided to not give up on my fitness journey and took up indoor cycling and other forms of upper body weight lifting. After 3 months of no running I started up again, and no pain! I slowly tested out my hip and I was feeling great! By July I September I ran my first half marathon since the injury… and I completed it in 2 hours and 10 minutes, so close to my goal!! I trained for about couple months and in November I did it! I ran a half marathon in 1 hour and 56 minutes! In one year I went from a fractured hip to achieving my goal. Running is my passion and my one piece of advice is to listen to your body. If your injured, it’s only temporary if you take care of yourself! I hope to inspire other future long distance runners!
Honorable Mention: Anthony Sendejo
Anthony Sendejo is a junior at Yreka High School Cross Country. He was the returning number 3 runner for the team. Early in the season, Anthony passed out after a long run and had to spend 2 days in the hospital. Dehydrated, Anthony had to take 2 weeks off of training. But eventually he came back and was the 5th runner the Northern Section Championships in California and helped his team secure the Division 4 title.
Honorable Mention: Megan Farrell
The year before this, she had injuries – some smaller, and some larger. She insisted upon running through them, since running was her end-all be-all. When things were serious enough to keep her from running as much as she wanted, she struggled to handle these down times with grace. Running was everything, but not in a healthy way.
A hip injury after Barkley Marathons really through her for a loop. She set some real goals (maybe for the first time in her running career since high school), and started to focus on improving her performance, her relationship with this sport, and herself overall. She’s a faster runner for it, and that’s evident by the numbers. She was proud of her Broken Arrow finish. Then a little coaching, with Megan’s focus and ethic, helped her reclaim her FKT of New Hampshire’s White Mountain Hut Traverse. She set her sights on the San Francisco North Face Endurance Challenge 50k, and came in second female in a tight race. More importantly than her rank, she met her sub-5-hour goal, as well.
What isn’t documented by stats, is how coaching has allowed Megan to become a happier runner. Not only is she beast-ing her goals, but she has been able to strike a balance with running. She has been able to stay injury free for months, is able and willing to set running aside while she rests or cross-trains, all because she can see how much improvement she’s gained this year from a balanced running practice.
I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do at the Barkley in April, with the proper coaching, and starting injury-free. No matter what, she’ll always be faster than the rest of our family, so she’s definitely a gnar-boss around here.
Thank you all for sharing your stories with each other. Success is always inspiring, but recovery from trial, or disaster, or failing to achieve a goal and trying again and again and again is much more inspiring in my opinion. Keep rolling people!