Man up.

Start-Finish of the Zumbro 100 Endurance Race. Sunrise between the 2nd and 3rd loops of the 50 mile race. It was fun to watch headlamps bouncing around up at the top of the mountain at 3 and 6am.

It’s amazing when you witness friends do amazing things. It’s incredible to watch them put all their hard work, dedication, and mental capacity into reaching a goal.

Zumbro 100 Endurance Run

Friday and Saturday I was fortunate enough to crew for my friend, Dean, as he tackled his biggest running goal to date — a 50 mile trail run through some bluffy, hilly Minnesota terrain. His goal was to complete the race in under 12 hours. When asked on the drive down what his manta for the race was, he responded with “Man up.”

One part of the run I don’t want to erase from my mind any time soon was right before his third and last 17 mile loop. We had helped take his shoes off and dump all the sand and rocks out. I filled his hydration pack back up with gel as he talked about the hills and how his quads were super tight. The second loop was tougher than the first and he was sore. He stood up, seemed to shake it all off, and got his pack back on. I remember thinking, How does one make themselves go back out there knowing what is ahead?

As Steve walked back from sending him off he told us what Dean muttered under his breath as he started his last loop. “Bring it, motherf*cker.” (While I thought this comment was to the trail ahead, I found out later this was to our friend Chris, who would be running the 17 mile race a couple hours later. As we were chatting before Dean took off, the two of them had some friendly banter going back forth as Chris told him he’d see him out on the course.)

How can it not make you want to do and be better?

He finished his first 50 mile ultra marathon in 11 hours and 42 minutes!

Throughout his training, Dean, myself, and my boss, Steve, shared a lot of trail running stuff back and forth. This has all been a deeper dive for me into trail ultra marathons.

In that moment watching Dean take off for his last stretch, I saw a person from the little videos he had sent me throughout training. The runner has is tough, a bit stubborn maybe, but incredibly determined to reach their goal. It was pretty awesome to witness. I try to surround myself with these people. That’s the type of person I want to be.

We all need more “Bring it, motherf*cker” moments in our lives.

Getting back into the swing of things on Monday, I had several people ask how his race went. As I told them about the race, how it was organized, and how Dean did, it was slightly entertaining to watch their eyes get wide. I got several questions like, “What does one eat on a 50 mile race? How long do you rest?” But I think the best reaction was always after the questions got answered and it kind of sunk in what he did. “Why!? That’s crazy! I would never do that.”

The response to that question in any of the videos I watched over the past couple months, and Dean’s response, is to see how far they can push themselves, to find out exactly what they are capable of when pushed outside their comfort zones.

It can be hard to imagine what it’s like to choose to put yourself in that mindset and uncomfortable situation. Not many people do. After seeing several hundred runners push through the mental and physical battle of an ultra marathon it really makes you think. Think about what you have done, what you could do, maybe even should do, to push yourself to do something just a little crazy, to (wo)man up, and have your own “Bring it, motherf*cker” moment.

If you want to read more about Dean’s race, go check out his blog post, A Little Run at Zumbro.