Long distance running is an individual sport. It is a personal challenge. It is something in which you don’t have anyone else needing something from you.
Unless you run a Ragnar. Or a Tough Mudder.*
In both of these situations, there is an extra drive. There are the gnawing words in the back of your brain to not quit because you have people depending on you.
I know people who enjoy keeping running as just an individual sport, but over the last couple years I have completely fallen in love with these team events. What you find in these events is a camaraderie that is completely unexpected.
Somehow being stuck in a van for two solid days with unshowered, gross runners and having nothing to do but get to know each other will make some pretty quick friendships.
Similarly, going through an event where certain obstacles (for most people) REQUIRE a team encourages trust and a confidence in others that we would get through everything TOGETHER.
Both of these events have been incredibly memorable for me, but what made them so was the people. My teammates. All 21 (soon to be 32) of them.
So mile seven is for them. For baton handoffs at three in the morning and shared sunrises over Lake Michigan. For double-digit miles on less than two hours of sleep and for the best pancake breakfast in the land. For a solid boost over a Berlin Wall and the one clean part on someone else’s shirt where you can wipe your eyes. For orange headbands and cold Dos Equis.
*Or some other events, I’m sure, but these are the that stand out to me.