ENDURING VOICES 2020
Good morning all! I spent yesterday in and out of consciousness (truly, just napping a lot), so I didn't have much time to write. This morning, as I sit with a cider donut and a cup of coffee, I wanted to close out the EV2020 run with a recap.
As you know, I set out to cover more than 100 miles of the New England Trail, with a couple of friends as well as a lot of folks jumping in and out. My hope was to put together a last-minute effort to continue the EV run "tradition" albeit not in Vietnam Those of you who know me and my dedication but don't know the NET, may be surprised that we only made it about halfway. Those of you who know the NET may be surprised we made it that far!
The day started at 4:15 am, with my friend James dropping me Wayne, Andrew, and Manny at the Connecticut border, where we gingerly started our run. After the first six miles, including an ascent of Provin Mountain, we crossed the Westfield River, thankfully not too deep, and continued north. We started running into some trouble as a severe wind storm a few days earlier had made much of the trail impassable, and we were forced off trail repeatedly. This, and perhaps a few missed turns, in the dark (wearing headlamps), added nearly two hours to the early part of the run.
We were met throughout the day by friends, with James reappearing at ad-hoc aid stations several times. Amy Rusieki jumped in at mile 10, then somewhere around 18 we were joined by Daniel, and Carolyn and Wayne Stocker, We continued North and climbed Mount Tom, where some of the runners turned back. The rest of us continued north over Whiting Peak and Goat Peak before coming down to the Connecticut River, where we were shuttled by my wife across the river. On the other side, we began climbing Mount Holyoke and headed east across the dreaded Seven Sisters, At the top, we were surprised by Kristin Loiko and her daughter, who just seemed happy to be there. As we completed the Seven Sisters (two hours and six peaks later), we were joined by Ben, who joined for a few miles capturing every minute on film.
We continued west across Mount Norwottuck and Long Mountain before turning north again toward Scarborough Brook, where Ben was waiting again as the sunset. We were still about two hours behind schedule, and generally feeling pretty good. Leaving Scarbourough, we headed over Mount Lincoln and into Pelham as nightfall set in, landing us in darkness again. By this time, we had been moving for about 50 miles, with more than 12,000 feet of climbing and a steady afternoon temperature near 80. I think each of us began to quietly ponder how much more we could take. Would we be able to continue on behalf of others? Would our brains shut down? Our legs?
At this point, I really started thinking about children again. I wanted the image of children I have seen, children I know, to keep my legs moving. Andy began to question out loud whether he could continue, and I tried to keep those faces in my mind. As we were about to emerge from the forest onto a remote country road, Andy realized he would have to stop at 50 miles. We reached our aid station and he listened to his body, while Wayne and I continued our quest. We had a brief discussion where we promised each other we'd be honest if we had a problem. After all, this wasn't a race with checkpoints, medical staff, and loads of volunteers and other runners. This was just him and me, late evening, by ourselves as we shuffled through the dark forest trails hoping that the orchestral maneuvers would lead us to a couple of friends who had planned to meet us.
I had stumbled before sunrise, compressing a tibial tendon (that had been injured a year before), and it had been getting more and more sore throughout the day. My left hip flexor, another recent nag, had been ravaged by the climbing of the day. I now found myself in pain continually. My ankle while walking, my hip while running. I tried to push away the pain, and focus on those faces, but I started to realize that if I pushed away the pain too much, I might cause long-lasting damage. This wasn't muscular pain, this was the onset of an injury. So, at the next aid station, where Sarah was meeting us to join in, I made the decision to stop. not to quit, but to withdraw, and Wayne continued North toward Lake Wyola.
Brian gave me a ride north, where I would meet Jason and Daniel who were going to provide aid overnight. I may have had to stop running, but I was not going to stop. Two hours later, Wayne and Sarah emerged from the trail and approached the aid station, where Wayne let us know that he also could not go on. A bad fall on Mount Tom early in the day had left him with a large bruise on his quadriceps, which had gotten more painful throughout the day. So, just before midnight, at mile 62, Wayne put the final nail in the coffin.
Throughout the day, we were supported AMAZINGLY WELL by two ladies who don't run. Not even a step. But MaryBeth and Tanya Woodbury were there for many hours and many miles, cheerfully providing food, water, cider donuts, fresh clothing, cold cokes, chips, candy, bananas, PB&J, smiles, encouragement, blister care, and whatever else we needed. Late in the day, when they headed to Keene for some rest, Brian and Kathy Williams jumped in. Then, Daniel and Jason were prepared to support us all night. Nick, who so generously wanted to help, provided some much-needed shuttling, weather support, and friendship. If you've never been an ultra runner, you may not know how critical this support is, but I always say that the real heroes are the volunteers and the same as true this weekend. I felt bad for my good friend James, who was planning on joining at mile 62, but we left him high and dry. He had been there throughout most of the training, and most of the day, but was not able to run one step, as our bodies just couldn't go on. (as I am typing this, my house is being swarmed by a murmuration of blackbirds, to the point that I can't see my grass through them!)
In the end, our legs were not able to carry on, but our hears certainly were. I never stopped thinking about the children for whom I fight so passionately. Underneath it all, I didn't run for me, and it was not about the trail as much as it was about the children. According to pledge reg, Facebook, and the funds given to me directly, the per-mile pledges I received and the matching gift, we raised about $13,000 from what I can see. And these funds will go DIRECTLY to the fight against child trafficking. THIS is why I ran. I can't thank you all enough for your support. Your prayers, smiles, friendship, hugs, financial contributions, and above all-your love-is all the reward I need.
While driving me home, my friend Jason asked me a question that led me to a thought I have never verbalized. He wanted to know about my end-game, and it came out so clearly. I don't want riches. I don't want fame. I don't want praise. I want to inspire. That's all I want. If I can inspire one person to join the fight, the pain will have been worth it. The cause doesn't have to be the same cause I fight for, it can be anything that makes the world a better place. If I can inspire one person to do something good for someone else, then that person can inspire one other person, and we can carry this on, WE CAN MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE. That's it, just inspire. Nothing more. And I sit here, tears in my eyes because I'm terrified that I won't do enough, and won't inspire enough people. And because I am grateful and hopeful that some of you have been inspired and will continue the fight.
Thank you, to all of you. You are all loved.
- Craig Reed, Orphan Voice Board Member, Enduring Voices Founder.
ENDURING VOICES 2019 - MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
Enduring Voices 2019 is history! Here are some highlights:
Over 300 Vietnamese youth began the Run.
6 Vietnamese youth rode bicycles to guide and protect the runners.
Craig covered the entire 100 miles. Others covered from 20 to 40 miles.
It was hot!
It was a long way!
It was worth it!
300 Vietnamese youth volunteered online for Enduring Voices 2019. We’ve never seen such interest before! In previous years, Enduring Voices has been blessed to have 20 volunteers!
Over 200 runners started the race! What’s happening? Vietnamese youth is being mobilized to protect children – and to stand up to the evil of sexual abuse and trafficking. These young people are saying: “We’ll do it. We’ll protect our children!”