It’s an almost unfathomable distance, but it’s too late to back out now. We’re at the start line of the San Angelo Clubhouse 0.5K.
Yes, that’s right. Half a kilometer. For those who don’t speak metric, that’s 0.311 miles, a distance possible by car or jetpack, but surely testing the limits of human endurance on foot.
The organizers, realizing this, offer copious amounts of coffee and whipped cream before the start. If I must die, let me go out with whipped cream in my mustache.
The race is for a worthy cause. The San Angelo Clubhouse is a nonprofit that helps adults with mental illness reach their potential. If you must suffer, what better reason?
The official starter is hoisted onto the race director’s shoulders. Suddenly 30 feet in the air, she starts bawling, a signal the race has started.
It’s a small troop of True Believers in the race, the way it always is in ultras. Young, old, two and four legs, Frida roller skates, sloths. We march as if one along the river walk.
After a seeming eternity, and 0.155 miles, we finally reach the aid station and find Gatorade and pizza rolls. I’ll just say pizza rolls should be mandatory at all race aid stations.
We pause to watch the mid-race entertainment, an amazing juggler. We have to continue onward before he juggles the dog. The sacrifices you make while racing …
Refueled, we make the push to the finish. The last few hundred meters are an endless blur. A long straight, a water crossing, a left turn and finally the finish line at the Clubhouse.
There we are met with hard-earned pastries, brownies and fruit. We bask in our accomplishment. Our battered legs swear we’ll never take on the 0.5K again, while knowing the pain will fade and in a couple of days we’ll be looking forward to next year.
Challenges are relative. We’re all climbing our own mountains. It’s an honor to help others climb theirs. A half-kilometer at a time.