Gobi March Blogs 2023

View All Posts 2023 From : Keith Gayhart

Keith Gayhart
Dreaming of Gobi

15 February 2023 10:09 am (GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi

As a youngster, I loved maps. I could spend hours lying on my four poster bed in my parent’s tidy Cape Cod house thumbing through an atlas and dreaming of places where I wanted to escape. I wasn't thinking of Rome, Paris or London. I wanted to cast off for Baffin Island, N’Djamena, Novaya Zemlya. 

I yearned to get away from my boring hometown in southeastern Wisconsin. Simply moving up the road to Milwaukee wouldn’t do. I needed someplace remote, forbidding and, if possible, devoid of human life. If Olympus Mons were a possibility, that’s where I’d set my sights.

As I grew older, my infatuation with maps faded. I spent less time imagining myself wandering the shores of Tristan da Cunha and instead focused on getting through school, landing a job, raising a family and funding my IRA. I made my home in Los Angeles, not Coober Pedy.

Decades later, the embers of my bedroom fantasies unexpectedly stoked back to life. At age 46, I took up running, progressing from treadmill to marathon in less than two years. Ultramarathoning became my obsession. At first, I stuck to events in California, but one day, listening to the radio, I heard about a race north of the Arctic Circle in Greenland. A light bulb switched on. I could combine my new fervor for long distance running with my youthful pipedreams of escape! A few months later, I was jogging on the Greenland icecap. I crossed one of the names off my boyhood list: Kangerlussuaq.

Other adventures followed. I traveled to Whitehorse, Yellowknife, the Canary Islands, Tbilisi, Irkutsk, San Pedro de Atacama and Swakopmund. Each of these trips occurred in the context of long distance races, first marathons and ultramarathons, then stage races like the Gobi March.

These experiences weren’t what I imagined as a child. Yes, the places I visited were far away, but I was hardly alone. I was surrounded by lots of other folks: fellow competitors, race organizers, volunteers and local crew. In each instance, I bonded with the people I met. We encouraged each other through the tough spots, swapped inflated stories of past derring do, exchanged quick “hellos” during midnight runs to the loo. We were united by our shared passion. We were members of the same tribe.  I guess that’s what I was looking for all along. Even if it cost me my toenails.

I look forward to seeing my friends, old and new, in Ulaanbaatar.

Comments: Total (3) comments

Mary Gadams

Posted On: 16 Feb 2023 04:48 am

So awesome to have at another race Keith!

John Medina

Posted On: 15 Feb 2023 10:45 pm

I’m always in awe of your adventurous feats, Keith, not to mention how well you describe them. Very enjoyable reading your blog and following you along the way.. Go with “viento en popa”.

Amy Hutner

Posted On: 15 Feb 2023 07:49 pm

I love reading your blogs about ultrarunning! Your drive and passion are enviable. Please post more details on the upcoming race and your training!