Mike G is a runner with Team RunRun and after crushing his race at the Houston Marathon in early 2020, he decided he wanted to take on a different challenge: Cover as many miles as possible in Discovery Park in Seattle, WA, all unsupported, all within the park hours. The goal was 100 miles but the experience took on much more meaning than any time or mileage goal. This is a summary of his experience, the challenges he faced, and the emotions he went through.
We love this awesome sport and Mike’s challenge to himself, in light of the fact that “official” challenges of races are continually cancelled or moved, and it’s an inspiring example of why we can find gratitude in the fact that in the end, we still have running.
Check out his Strava route here, aka His Love Letter to Discovery Park.
Disco (in Latin): to learn; Inferno (in Latin): of the lower regions. Later became associated to something hellish and suffering.
If the running community were a gang, “Learn by suffering” would maybe be one of our collective tattoos. We have all suffered during a run and had to overcome it and when we have, it has made us better. This is why I took on running 100 miles unsupported at Discovery Park in Seattle or as the locals call it, Disco. I needed a hard reset and running a bunch of miles to my breaking point seemed like a good way to do that.
Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest park with 534 acres (2.16 km2) of land that consists of forests, beaches, prairies and bluffs. It contains 12 miles (19km) of trails which can be combined in many ways with my favorite being a roughly 4-mile loop that passes through all those different areas with about 500ft (152m) of elevation gain. My plan was to run this loop as much possible and then stick to the higher and flatter ground loops until I hit 100 miles. I chose to do it unsupported which has different meanings in the running world but I follow the FKT (fastest known time) rules of carrying everything you need from start to finish except water and not being accompanied unless you start and finish together.
Everything was awesome the first 6 loops. I was curious if repeating them would affect me but they didn’t. I never thought about them as loops, they just ‘were’, and every step was a new step. This might seem like a mindfulness feat but it was more from tiredness. The parks hours are 4am-11:30pm and I ended up using every minute of it. After 6 loops, the running on mixed surfaces of trails and pavement and the rolling hills with steep staircases had caught up to me. I stuck mostly to the higher ground trails from then on but my legs and feet were not happy.
After mile 37 I started taking breaks whether it was to watch seals in the water or the sunlight dance on the water with the majestic Olympic mountains in the background. It was magical. The focus during races is often running as fast as possible that such experiences are never fully realized. I knew I wasn’t going to make 100 miles anymore and I didn’t care. I had hit the reset button and felt hundreds of emotions overflow within. I was ready to give up several times during the low points but the love and support from you guys kept me going. The suffering eventually ebbed away to be replaced by an enormous love and gratitude. This coupled with the support felt from TRR carried me to the parks closure where I finished with 91 miles (146km) and 9,028ft (2752m) of elevation gain with nothing left in the tank.
I woke up the next day feeling freer and lighter than I had in a long time. Overcoming something we don’t think we can do is also learning something new about ourselves. We don’t need races to do this, just the will and maybe some disco inferno.