The 20-Year Race Blogs 2023
The 20-Year Race (2023) blog posts from Kristina Huffman
27 August 2023 11:37 am (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time(US & Canada); Tijuana
There is a bit of irony that the seed for this post was planted in the midst of my last long weighted race pack run. As each hill passed and I reflected on the long journey it has been, I began to think about where I was when I started this path several years ago. That was before Atacama in 2022 and before Gobi in June of this year (2023). The memories are still vivid of the challenges that I faced getting accustomed to running with a weighted race pack. Now it seems all too natural to have the pack on, and it feels more like a glove on a hand to me now.
When thinking about strength, it's something that is often associated with only the physical. As we all know as ultrarunners, the inner mental strength is as important if not more important that pure physical strength. But strength is truly interconnected in an often misunderstood way. What we perceive and how we interpret create our reality, both positive and negative, both physical and mental. Having the mental fortitude to hold demons at bay when the going gets rough is as important as all the deadlifts and squats one can fit into a day. And having the former will allow you to do that latter when the going gets rough.
Each race has provided amazing opportunities to learn and grow, to exercise this mental muscle, and continue to develop both as a racer and a person. I will not soon forget the sandstorms of Atacama or the relentless heat and sand dunes of Gobi. Those were the days where I took away something that cannot be read in a book or coached in a conversation. Those are the experiential teaching moments where you find what exists within you and learn what you are capable of as a racer and human being. I ponder what takeaways I will have after Jordan and look forward to new enlightening moments.
My most recent weighted rack pack run (and a minor foot sprain) served as a stark reminder of lessons learned. Never take anything for granted and always persevere in the face of challenge. The most beautiful and special moments in life are often the hardest earned, with tumultuous paths that twist and turn in unexpected ways but land us exactly where we need to be. The key is listening to inner wisdom, accepting the challenge, and never giving up. Be creative and find solutions. I am very fortunate that miracles do happen (as my physical therapist said a week time frame for recovery would be a miracle). This has served as a reminder to live in the moment, let go of judgment, and create solutions. Never look back, always look forward and keep on keeping on.
08 August 2023 02:52 pm (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time(US & Canada); Tijuana
When I first heard this catch all phrase, I am not sure I fully grasped the concept on a deep level as I did after my first race. I thought that it sounded like a great slogan, but I couldn't have been more wrong. After only a day into my first experience in Atacama 2022, I realized that this was MORE THAN A RACE!!! And day two, who would not enjoy running down a sand dune!?! Epic is an understatement!
The slogan "More Than A Race" captures the true essence of the overall race experience. The people that you meet. The extreme highs and lows that you experience on a daily basis. Seeing other racers experience the same, and bearing witness to the deep pain as well as the celebrations that others experience around you live each day. Sitting around the campfire and having international borders melt away and friendships form. Reminiscing in shared experiences from the day. This is one but facet of "more than a race". After all the blisters have healed and the sore muscles fade, this is what we remember and what keeps bringing us back to sign up for more races.
It was day three at Atacama Crossing 2022 and day two at Gobi March 2023 that offered me deep opportunities to learn and grow as a racer and as a person. Being able to rise above challenge, create your reality, and master your plan to kick adversity in the proverbial face is incredibly rewarding and deeply satisfying. It teaches you about what resides within you and inspires you to be the best person that you can. Day three at Atacama 2022 made me understand why plans can and do change and to be adaptable. Sand storms can literally and figuratively blow away what we plan for and force us to devise a plan for what now exists. Day two at Gobi March taught me that while I have never encountered a blister in my ultramarathon racing experience EVER (including Atacama Crossing 2022), I was not immune. It offered a chance to overcome this challenge and find my path to the finish line, just not how I have originally planned. I climbed my way literally and figuratively out of that hole on the third stage.
Ironically day two at Atacama and day three at Gobi while deeply rewarding for me were intensely saddening as I had to bear witness to my husband not completing through those stages. Especailly since he was my inspiration that carried me through stage two at Gobi. I have been incredibly inspired by his journey to train and race at the "tender" age of 70. How many people have the stamina, motivation, committment, and desire to not only get out there and race but a 7-day stage race ultramarathon at that! He is my hero! I could not be more thrilled and proud to toe the line starting at Jordan with my amazing husband Bob who will attempt his third Racing the Planet race with his sights on completing two races in time so that he can join me in Antarctica in 2024. I am confident that Jordan will be his race and he will proudly wear that medal that he has yearned and worked so hard for in training. For those racing, please give him a "high five" when you see him in camp or out on the course.
I look forward to meeting new competitors in Jordan and having the opportunity to re-connect with those that I have shared experiences with at both Atacama and Gobi! These are the life changes experiences that truly make this MORE THAN A RACE!!
07 August 2023 05:25 pm (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time(US & Canada); Tijuana
The excitement is building for my third race with Racing the Planet, The 20-Year Race in Jordan in just 90 days. Each race has been an adventure that has left me with many lasting memories and friendships forged in the shared experience. Atacama 2022 was my first Racing the Planet experience and an awakening into the world of racing a 250K self-supported ultramarathon stage race. From dealing with extremes in temperatures to extremes in weather, it offered up some unique challenges. Be prepared for change was the key element. I walked away unscathed and enlightened with the skill and knowledge to build off of for future races. Gobi March 2023 was my second RTP adventure. While I had opted for a single tent with my husband at Atacama, we decided to utilize a shared tent for Gobi. Best decision ever! I quickly learned to expect the unexpected and to be prepared mentally for unknown challenges with every new race. While I didn't encounter any issues with my feet in Atacama, Gobi offered foot challenges that I was not alone in facing during the race! While extreme swings in temperature were not present in Gobi, the extreme temperatures at the high end were! Feet and heat, that was my big take away from Gobi. I look to Jordan with excitment and wonder. The experience will undoubtedly leave more lasting memories and friendships for a lifetime.