I'll never forget my first ultra. It was a 50K in western Oregon that I singed up for on a whim with a couple of running partners. It was February and we were all training for a Spring marathon but we were starting to feel the winter blues, we needed to get out of town.
There were no significant races where we lived in Idaho in February so my buddy found this nice sounding race in western Oregon, without really reading the course description I signed up for the Haag Lake Mud Run 50K. After a week of rain and a thorough reading of the course description and warnings my two buddies quickly downgraded to the 25K option but I didn't jump on a plane to take the easy route so I stayed fast with the 50K.
The 50K was two laps around a lake with a 3 mile out and back before the first lap and started about an hour ahead of the 25K. Coming back through the start/finish line after 3 miles I was deliriously happy as I waved at my 'weaker' friends waiting to start the 25K. 4 miles and 7 ankle shattering falls later I was covered to my shoulders in mud and starting to seriously doubt the sanity of running this section of trail ever again in my life much less in another 15 miles. Maybe my 'weaker' friends where actually just a lot smarter than I was. Thankfully there was a section of paved road and an aid station that completely changed my mood. I fell several more times, covered my body in even more mud but still somehow willed myself to walk past my warm car to start a second lap around the lake. Much to the surprise of my friends in the 25K who were expecting me to be waiting for the at the finish. "Who would run all that again on purpose!?" they said. All was well until mile 27.
At this point I took a hard fall in a field of mud. My spirit was broken, I was tired, muddy and it had started to rain. Then while I lay there crying in the mud it got worse as an aging 65 year old runner spryly navigated the mud field and nimbly jump over my broken body. As I watched this senior citizen smoothly crest the hill in front of me I crawled to my feet and stumbled into the next aid station. Just over 5 hours after I started that first lap around the lake I finished my first 50K. I felt like I had just climbed Mount Everest and plain tomato soup never tasted so good. This day had sucked but I was and Ultra Marathoner and I was hooked.