The crooked man crab walked down the desert highway turning the light comedy of Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks into a separate circle of Hell, the pain on his face adding that final twist of reality that brought people to cheer or turn their faces in horror. But the bent man didn’t hear most of it, didn’t have time to raise a hand even if he could have managed it, he just jigged painfully on toward the top of the long desert mountain, down another hard hot highway, and on toward an Emerald City that lay shrouded in the dusty air, little more than myth at the end of a fractured yellow brick road.
He went as far as his friends could help him, as far as his body could carry him, as far as his determination could will. Then, somewhere down 98 miles of desert highway, since it was really only a race, and when it looked like he could permanently damage himself, he drove the stake into the earth and laid down to rest. But he didn’t quit, he didn’t despair, or lament his weaknesses. He rose in the morning, pulled up the stake and once again began the crooked but unbroken walk toward the green meadows of many a runner’s heaven, Lone Pine, the last of the desert check points on his long hard journey.
More and more crooked he moved, more and more bent he stood, more and more painfully he traveled, and yet more and more certain he became that he could do what he had seen only as a dream, as a forlorn hope. And as each painful step brought him closer to his goal his body twisted and turned and writhed, his stride became wounded and sadistically comical, and his voice turned dry and fragile. Hours passed, each one sixty minutes long, and each minute sixty seconds longer, and each second an eternity of pain he lived as if it were every mile of the long journey he had already completed. Then finally he stepped onto the edge of the summit and stood there with both feet on neither side, and the pain became just another tool to divine the journey’s meaning.
There was no highest mountain climbed, the portals of Heaven did not open, and many goals were left unfulfilled. But that is life. We often leave much uncompleted when we make a habit of striving beyond our known limits. There is no failure in that. The Crooked man did not stop in the face of adversity, did not falter in the face of defeat, nor whine when the demons of pain and despair enshrouded him in their twin veils. He pushed on until the clock ran out, until the final moment, and in that he found great success and proved an inspiration to many.
He wore a HURT shirt from start to finish. His run epitomizes what that symbol means. Understand his story, understand the limits that were in play, and let it stand as an example to you when you too wear that emblem and attempt to push your own personal limits. Draw inspiration, courage, and wisdom from his tale.
I’m sure he will tell you soon in his own words, but from my point of view this was the most miserable bitch of an hard ass run I have ever seen. It was an honor to be at his side through much of this grueling experience.