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Jesse Gould
Stage 5 --- The Long March

19 August 2022 08:37 pm (GMT+02:00) Helsinki, Kyiv, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius

Segment 5

Distance Covered: 50 miles

Total distance covered: 144 miles

Elevation change: +/- 450 meters

Food selection: A chefs tasting menu of trail mix, gold fish crackers, vomit-inducing power gels, gummies to make me happy, beef jerky, melted power bars, and scavenged blue berries.  I also ate someone’ donated mystery freeze dried food for breakfast which I think was something with chicken and pesto, but we will never know for sure.


Hey everyone! I completed the long march around midnight after a 16hour trek over 50 miles. Everyone around camp this morning is hobbling around but have smiles on their faces. Today is a rest day since many got into camp so late. Tomorrow is the last little segment just to get to the official finish lines where many of the racers’ families will be there to greet them .It will be a quick 6 mile jog and will be staggered so everyone finish around the same time.  Later tomorrow there will be the reception to congratulate all  the racers.  Fortunately for today, we are camping at an old lumberjack camp which has saunas that we can access and a lake. 


As for the race... In the original forecast at the begging of the week, the today was supposed to be filled with rain storms. We lucked out.  The weather was perfect all day yesterday.  Crisp air and deep blues skies.  The first 25 miles was through a wide variety of trails through forests and around lakes.  Some very beautiful scenery.  There was one brief segment with a boat crossing which add some variety but achy bones, a still heavy pack, and trying to stand up in an unstable boat is not a good formula.  My feet only got wet 4-5 times during the run (ideal for a 50miler ?). 


At check point 5 everyone has the option to heat up some of their food and rest a bit.  At that point I was just ready to get back to camp and I had been eating all the wonderful snacks listed above.  With about 18 miles left, I decided to just keep trucking forward.  The first 25 miles were relatively smooth but walls did start coming up in the 30 mile area.  To make matters even more difficult, the last 20 miles were very mundane for scenery and mostly on  gravel and asphalt roads.  This is necessary since many competitors finish very late and you can’t have people wandering through the woods while delirious.  This isn’t Ranger School, these are respectable people.


I pushed through the monotony and the pain. With 12miles left all of a sudden I got a surge of energy.  Camp was within reach.  Whether it was a second wind or the dormant Ranger decided to come out, I suddenly found the energy to go into a full on run.  The adrenaline pushed away the pain and my brain was 100% focused on finishing.  Fortunately in Finland, it doesn’t start getting dark until around 12 am so the light helped with staying focused and motivated.  For the back 25 miles my time improved by 1hour 30 mins.


Once I got to camp I immediately went to the tent.  Sleep was a bit hard as we are situated on a slope and my legs needed to be moved around consistently to prevent aches.  Feeling great today.  My feet help up beautifully.  No new blisters from yesterdays run and the old one are starting to heal.


There was a beautiful scene in camp this morning.  Around 7am some of the racers were sitting around the fire and we here loud singing.  As it got closer we saw that is was a group of different latino racers that had stuck together to support each other through the challenge of the final legs.  In the group was a Mexican couple on their honeymoon, a Guatemalan couple, and some other women from Honduras and Guatemala.  The song there will all singing at the top of their lungs was Colores de Esperanza (Colors of Hope) and when they crossed the finish line it was all smiles, tears, laughter and hugging.


I hope everyone had their own enjoyable Thursday!


  Please remember to support us at

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Jesse Gould
Stage 4

17 August 2022 07:26 pm (GMT+02:00) Helsinki, Kyiv, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius


Hey everyone,


Breathwork, Rain, and Reindeer Stew


Stage 4 complete!

Total distance: 25.1 miles

Elevation gain:434 m

Elevation loss: 394 m

Culinary offering: For breakfast a mix of Mexican rice bowl and chana masala because neither were good individually and still not good combined.  For dinner pad Thai which was decent.


This was the final short segment before the long march tomorrow which is 50 miles.  Essentially after tomorrow the race is all but complete.  Friday will be a rest/local culture day and Saturday will be a quick 6 miler to the finish line.  Everyone is sore and everyone has some form or blister, chaffing, or injury.  The second half of tomorrow is all about digging deep and pushing forward. 


Today was pretty easy and straight forward.  The first 3 segments were various trails through the woods without many obstacles. The last segment was more challenging with a very step incline of 260m followed by a very step decline.  But the view at top of the Akaskero Fell was very stunning.  You could see for miles all around.


I continued to focus on breathwork today which again worked amazingly.  The first 20 miles flew by with relatively little pain.  It was clearly still there but just came and passed without permanence.  During the trail there were a few brief rainstorms that each lasted about five minutes.  Really refreshing and added to the serenity of the run/march.  Considering this is technically my vacation, today was a nice addition.  Dealing with the distracted, doubtful, and struggling brain during these events is its own type of therapy and catharsis, but having no thoughts other than being present in remote wilderness was rejuvenating.   


When we got to the campsite they greeted us with a surprise of reindeer stew made by a local Finnish family.  After some long days, a very welcome surprise for everyone.


My feet are holding up. My pinky toes one again hate me but they will survive (hopefully).  Wishing everyone a pleasant Wednesday.


Wish me luck tomorrow.  I will already be deep into the trek by the time you all wake up on Thursday and will likely still be trekking the majority of the day.


Please remember to support our mission at

Comments: Total (5) comments

Greg Shanken

Posted On: 18 Aug 2022 07:13 pm

Hi Jesse - sending you love, light, and strength for your incredible and brave journey. 🙏 😇 💙

Graham Ginn

Posted On: 18 Aug 2022 03:28 pm

Amazing Jesse. You are really doing a great job walking the walk and talking the talk. Looking forward to seeing your updates. My thoughts are often with you when I'm swimming in the morning. Thanks for your motivation!

Douglas Finkelstein

Posted On: 18 Aug 2022 02:52 pm

“Today was pretty easy” 😂 Finish strong Jesse!!

Zach Riggle

Posted On: 17 Aug 2022 07:40 pm

Way to go, Buddy!!! I'm sure the Long March looks a lot better in your rearview! We miss you back here. Things are progressing without disaster, which is always good. Nevertheless, we still look forward to your return. Hope you're getting some good rest on your nice, peaceful vacation ;) Semper, Z

Jenny Hansen

Posted On: 17 Aug 2022 06:35 pm

Sending Jesse extra strength and positivity to make it all the way! Woohoo!
Jesse Gould
Stage 3: Pain, Injury prevention, and some zen

16 August 2022 10:02 pm (GMT+02:00) Helsinki, Kyiv, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius


Hey everyone!


Just completed stage 3 which was a killer.

Stage 3 total miles: 24.8

Total miles covered in race: 79.7 miles

Elevation gain: 676 meters

Elevation loss: 682

Gourmet food selection: For breakfast a peanut butter cliff bar and salted watermelon gel pack. For dinner a special recipe I created of a mix of cheesy chicken pasta and Cuban rice (freeze dried of course)


Most in camp are suffering in one form or a another, but this was also one of the more beautiful stages. It started off with a forest trail which was fairly technical and had a lot of water crossings. The next face had most of the elevation gain/loss where we climbed to Koivakero where the summit had beautiful views of the forest and surrounding lakes.  The path down was step and hard on already exhausted joints. The third segment went through more forest and a lot of marsh land.  As hard as I tried to avoid it, my feet ended up soaked multiple times.


At this point we are about 80 miles in and as resilient as the body is, the pain does start to accumulate. A big aspect of the race is to allow it and understand it comes in wave.  We also have one more stage until the long walk of 50 miles.  At this phase of the race, injury prevention is crucial.  Worn out ligaments, the building up of blisters, and possible infections all can end a race early.


Today and tomorrow I have been focused on taking it relatively easy so I can be sure to make it to the long walk.  Unfortunately, the shoes I brought have been causing a lot of blisters all over my feet.  My pinky toes are essentially all blister.  So much so that I had to cut a slit into the side of my left shoe to reduce the friction on the toe.  It worked surprisingly well.  On the positive, my prior Achilles injury has not flared up and the tendons are doing well.


When I got to the final checkpoint today, I was expecting a short final stretch segment to camp.  I was instead faced with another 7 miles on an already sore and exhausted body.  I started off the  segment doing the normal trot with my brain alternating to which area of my body had the most notable pain at the time.  I knew it would be a long 7 miles.


My brain started to think to the book Breath by James Nestor and how HHP also encourages breath work.  I figured it was a good opportunity to practice what I always preach.  I started a very basic 4 second inhale, 4 second exhale (the constriction of the bag prevented me from the normal 6 seconds).  After about 5 minutes it worked remarkably well.  The pain was there but easy to pass in my mind, my poster and gait straightened, and I was just able to focus solely on the nature around me.  Even being surrounded by talk of breathwork, I was still amazed how well it worked with the pain.  The time flew by and it was one of the most peaceful segments of the race.


PS We are sleeping in a Reindeer corral tonight


PPs A big Happy Birthday to my dad, Papa Gould!


I appreciate everyone’s support.  Please remember to check out the website and donate to help us save veteran lives.



Also check out our community partners, Warrior Angel Foundation, Veterans Path, and Hunter Seven Foundation!

Comments: Total (2) comments

Jenny Hansen

Posted On: 18 Aug 2022 02:26 pm

Holy wow, that sounds intense, yet the natural surroundings seem to be incredibly uplifting. Can't wait to see photos!

Zach Riggle

Posted On: 17 Aug 2022 02:15 am

Way to go, buddy!!! Looking strong, sounding stronger. RLTW -Z
Jesse Gould
Stage 2

15 August 2022 08:27 pm (GMT+02:00) Helsinki, Kyiv, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius

Hello everyone,


Day 2 completed!

Total Miles: 24

Meal Selection: Chili Mac for breakfast (not a great decision) and a double portion (huge bowl) of freeze dried chana masala post race.  Too much chana masala for one sitting but I needed the calories.


The total mileage of the todays segment was around 24 miles and much less technical and less steep than the previous day.  The first two checkpoints were around a lake in the woods.  Generally fairly monotonous.  But the second two stages were beautiful.  Segment three meandered through a beautiful forest filled with a massive variety of fauna.  There were dozens of types of mushrooms of all shapes, colors, and oddity. I also found a few patches of amanita muscaria which was personally exciting.  Few others at the camp seemed to be excited.  In this area of Lapland wild blue berries grow all over the place so you can also pause and grab a quick berry snack.


The final segment took us around another beautiful lake and ended at a historical site with traditional Finnish lake houses. Camp 2 overlooks the lake where we were able to again hop in for a quick freezing lake bath. 


Feet are holding up.  No tendon issues, but some unfortunate blisters. 


On to Stage 3! Its raining so I have to go!

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Jesse Gould
Day 1: The uphill battle

14 August 2022 08:37 pm (GMT+02:00) Helsinki, Kyiv, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius

 Day 1: The uphill battle


Hey everyone! Reporting from camp 2 in the middle of the wilderness in Lapland Finland.  I promise I am not just typing this from a cozy hotel in Helsinki next to the sauna.  They basically have us write up these blogs on unsent email and then tonight someone will deliver the computer to someone who will eventually get it to town where the magic of the internet is again restored.  A 21th century pony express.


Today was the first segment of the race which they said is possible the hardest apart for the long march in stage 6.  The total distance of this segment was 21 miles with nearly 950 meters in elevation gain. 


The day immediately started off with a swamp crossing just so all of our shoes were nice a wet/muddy before the climb. It was a bit precarious and so a few fell in and were soaked to their necks.  Most of the day was spent climbing the Pallas Fell and then followed by a steep descent into the forest.  With my pack weighing about 12.5 kilos this uphill rocky terrain was a work out on my ankles and feet.  Not an ideal start since I came into this race with a slight Achilles issue but so far it is holding up.  We started at 8am and I came in at 4pm and had a big bowl of crunchy freeze-dried mac and cheese. 


Camp two is near a beautiful lake where we could access the shore to jump in.  Freezing but refreshing after the long day and a natural icebath to help with the inflammation.


My fellow racers are from all over the world, all with their own unique and interesting stories. My tentmates are from Guatemala, Ireland, Canada, and Russia.  Beyond the inevitable growing smell and some occasional snoring, they have been great to go through this with.  I should mention it only gets dark here for about 2 hours so a lot of tossing and turning all around.


Thanks for all your continued support and I will upload some amazing media when I get back to civilization.


Please visit to donate to our fundraiser and help more veterans in need.


And remember to check our veteran community partners for this race: Hunter Seven Foundation, Veteran’s Path, and Warrior Angel Foundation.  All who will receive a portion of our donations to support each of their important work.


Also I would like to thank Dr. Bronner’s for their continued support from the begging and Bioxcelerator for helping to heal my military injuries through stem-cells.  Thanks to everyone else who has been a part of the Heroic Hearts important mission of saving veteran lives. (Apologies for typos, time is limited and I lost the ability to spell without spellcheck.)

Comments: Total (1) comments

Jenny Hansen

Posted On: 18 Aug 2022 02:22 pm

The comments about food crack me up! Go Jesse!