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Running in an Ultramarathon

A few Friday's ago, my husband and I were taking our nightly walk at our town's gorgeous local park situated next to the bay.  Following our usual path, we were surprised to come upon one of the fields filled with tents and signs that said, "Ultramarathon".  We continued our walk wondering out loud what it was all about...  My husband had always understood ultramarathon's to be 100 miles!  But he quickly dismissed that thinking that couldn't possibly be what was taking place.

Once my husband and I got to the walkway along the water, we needed to step aside to allow runner after runner safe passage by.   Runners that came in all shapes, sizes and ages; some seeming quite tired already...  A race that had only started 45 minutes earlier...

My curiosity got the best of me and while sitting on a bench watching the runners and the sunset, I googled information about the race.

Indeed it WAS a 100 mile race lasting 24 hours!!  Except for when my son-in-law was in the Marines and completed the 72 hour crucible, an event where the Marine is broken first to build them up to complete, I could not imagine what a toll a 24 hour 100 mile race would take on an average runner, ESPECIALLY when it was so hot out!!

For context, the following excerpt was taken from the Anchor Ultramarathon website describing the details of the race:

"There are 4 different races in the Anchor Down Ultras, which include 6 hour, 12 hour and 24 hour timed events and also a 100 mile event. All 4 races start promptly at 7:00 PM and end respective to their lengh, with the 24 hour event lasting until 7:00 PM on the following day, Saturday. The rules are simple. Run as many loops of the 2.45 mile course as possible in the alloted time. Take a break when you want to, rest when you must, or keep pounding the pavement. You can drop out at any time during the race when and if you've had enough. Only full 2.45 mile loops of the entire course count towards your total distance. Runners will be ranked higher as they cover more and more loops, and time will only be used in the event of a tie."

My husband thought this type of race was genius!  You can actually rest during the race (hence the tents), but you can't leave the race course except to the tent area.   Otherwise, runners would be disqualified.   But what my husband found most interesting was that the race was more about how many loops were completed in a certain amount of time in order to receive a finisher's medal rather than about one racer winning the ultimate prize according to their time.  It was really about an accomplishment of endurance and personal best.

What I found intriguing was the allowance of "pacers" in the ultramarathon.

"Pacers in a race as soul-searching as Anchor Down can be part of your success, and part of the fun. Adventures like this are better with friends... 

The Anchor Down Ultra allow "pacers" in the second half of both the 12 hour and 24 hour events. (No 6-Hour pacers allowed.) In other words, you may have a running friend join you to help you keep pace, make goal and stay in the race.

Pacers may not mule for runners (aka carry their gear.) However, pacers CAN provide shade for a runner (ie umbrella) or wet them down to minimize the effect of the heat."

As darkness set in, we were heading home to settle in for a good night's sleep, leaving behind the runners, headlamps bouncing along the pathway, gearing up to run all night, and some, most of the next day...

I couldn't shake the image.  Where does one find the mental and physical strength to endure such a race?...

...And where does one find the mental and physical strength to endure the ultramarathon of Life?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw
 off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with 
endurance the race set out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and 
perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.…
Hebrews 12:1-2

When we allow the world to consume us,  we become heavy laden with the sin of fleshly desire and worldly care.  The world and sin may feel good in the moment, but both cause all manner of mental and physical ailments, sapping our strength and hurting our witness.  

But God's Word tells us to protect that good witness despite our struggles...

 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
Acts 20:23-24

...for His grace will carry us.

Many times we falter and languish in life from the sin of desiring to control it.  We are so focused on self and how we have determined life should go, that we forgot the Author and Protector of our lives has ordained our every step for our good and His glory.   Therefore, we should keep our eyes fixed on Jesus every hour of every day...

For the Lord GOD helps Me, Therefore, I am not disgraced; Therefore, I have set My face like flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed. 
Isaiah 50:7

 ...for the Lord God will help us.

How often do we forget that we have a Pacer to run the race of life with us, the Holy Spirit.  Like the pacers who came along side the runners in the Anchor Down Ultramarathon, the Holy Spirit is our Pacer who helps us to keep pace, make goals, and stay in the race...  

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness
Romans 8:26a

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, 
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 15:13

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for 
he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, 
and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
John 16:13

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
John 15:26

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32

...for when we allow the Holy Spirit to encourage and comfort us we are free indeed.  Free to stay on course and run the race of life without encumbrance.

The busyness of life or our own spiritual laziness can rob us of our training time.  Training time in the Word of God... 

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 9:23-25

...for the Word shares testimonies of grace upon grace, and mercy upon mercy, the grace and mercy available to those who are in Christ Jesus.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
Romans 15:4

...For God brings us hope.

 Father God,

Please help me to remember the great cloud of witnesses that have run the race before me for encouragement in my own run.  Holy Spirit help me to fix my eyes on Jesus the Author and Perfecter of my faith.  Lord, help me to guard Your testimony by living my life well, testifying to the love and grace of Christ Jesus.  Father help me to relinquish control of my life and place it in your loving hands.  Lord help me to heed the still small voice whispering, "this is the way, {run} in it".  Holy Spirit move me to be in your Word daily so that I will be fit for the race.  Father help me to live my life in the freedom of Christ, unencumbered, so that I may run the race in a manner to receive the lasting crown.   

In Jesus Name,

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  1. Karen - - ok wow - ultramarathon indeed - I don't even like to run 200 meters let alone for 24hours. I love how you took the race and the knowledge in the natural and allowed God to show you a spiritual truth/principle. We are neighbors today at #SoulSurvival

    1. Debbie, Lol. I can't run at all!

      Praising God for His leading and lesson.

      Thank you so much for stopping by! :-)

    2. Karen - well, then I am not alone in the "I can't run department" LOL and God is always so good to give us lessons isn't he. :) We are neighbors today at #ThoughtProvokingThursday and #IChooseJoy - blessings... I enjoyed reading the post again too and getting more tidbits

    3. Awe, I appreciate you stopping by again! Glad you received more tidbits! :-)

  2. What a beautiful analogy! This was just so encouraging. We surely can become exhausted in this Christian race, and sometimes we feel that we cannot put one foot in front of the other, but as you so sweetly reminded me, God's grace IS sufficient. He proves it over and over. SO thankful for you, sweet friend, and the consistent encouragement and edification I find here. Sending you love and hugs!

    1. Cheryl, Thank you so much dear Cheryl.

      Praising God for His encouragement as we run this race together in His grace.

      Your words always bring me such blessing.

      Sending love and hugs right back to you! :-)

  3. Beautiful post! I've never heard of an ultramarathon. I've biked 100 miles in a day, but never ran that many. You're husband is right... it's brilliant. Thank you for this analogy and the scriptures of life you shared. Beautiful prayer, as well. It's a blessing to follow you this week at Crystal's and Holly's.

    1. Julie, Thank you!

      I hadn't either!

      WoW, biking 100 miles is quite impressive!!

      You are very welcome!

      Thanks so much for your kind words.

      You have blessed me!

  4. Hi from Massachusetts via Meg's place tonight, Karen!

    1. Ahh! We are neighbors of sorts. :-)

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. I love this post! I have only ran a 5k before but this race sounds fun. But I also love how you connected the Holy Spirit as our pacer. SO true! so why do we live life knowing we have Him as our help? your neighbor at Tell His Story

    1. Kristina, I'm glad you did!

      I would love to be able to run a 5K. Good for you!

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the post. I appreciate it so much!

      Thanks for stopping by. :-)

  6. I have never heard of an ultramarathon, I didn't know they existed. Very interesting to read about. What a great comparison to the spiritual side of life, so many thoughts to chose from! My pace may not be the same as others but I am still running for the prize! I really enjoyed reading this, thank you so much. Your friend at sitting among friends.

    1. Mindy, I like that, we do all run at different paces, and that's okay, when we are running toward the prize. :-)

      I'm so glad you did! Thank you for sharing that.


  7. So happy to be your neighbor at w2w and to read your insightful post!

    1. Elizabeth, I am happy you were my neighbor too! Thanks for your kind words!

  8. Yikes! I can't even fathom this but wow. I think the pacing thing is pretty cool too, a must have if I were to ever try. I love that Paul reminds us to keep focused. I love messages about focus because I get easily overwhelmed if I try doing too much. And PS: my hubby is also a Marine! He as an MP! Blessings & thanks for linking up at #TeaAndWord!

    1. Meg, Yes, I was quite intrigued by the pacing idea!

      I think we all can get overwhelmed and when we break life down into manageable pieces according to God's economy, we are more at peace.

      Please thank your husband for his great service to our country! My son-in-law has been out for two years after serving 4 active and 4 inactive. (The typical 8 years.) And they just bought their first home and it is just five minutes away! Yay! This means a lot because when he was a Marine he was stationed at Pendleton.

      You are welcome!

  9. Wow. I'm not a runner but this post has inspired me. I love the scriptures you've shared.

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely evening.

    1. Jennifer, Thank you for your kind words!

      And thanks for stopping by!

      I hope your day is blessed. :-)

  10. What an amazing metaphor of the Christian life! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on!

    1. Tina, Thank you for such kind words.

      You are welcome! :-)

  11. Great post! My son has competed in some triathlons, and my daughter has run marathons, so I related to much of what you wrote.

    1. Esther, Thank you!

      Wow! I admire that type of strength and focus! Good job Momma!

      I'm glad you found it relatable. :-)

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it!


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