The Soul of an Ultramarathoner

Running 100-mile plus races on consistent basis tests every fiber of your being and challenges every negative thought in your head. Here’s one person who knows how to power through it all.

When I first visited Shannon Farar-Griefer’s website, I thought it was a typo. Did she really do a 292-mile ultramarathon? Did she run Badwater, one of the toughest foot races in the world, in the middle of July, in Death Valley, 282 feet below sea level, to the portals of the 8,000 feet peak of Mountain Whitney, 135 miles, and then decide to run up the mountain, too, and be the first woman to double Badwater? Was this the woman who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and who puts her face in running extraordinary distances and maintaining a healthy diet? I had to talk to this woman, and dig into the power of the mind of this individual, look for inspiration that I can use in parts of my own life.

In my conversations with Shannon, we get a sense of the toll her sport takes on her during a race and the amazing ability that she has to push through the blisters, the lack of sleep, the overall pain of running beyond the limits of what you think you are capable of doing. She brings the same outlook to dealing with disease.

It was during a race, around mile 70, that she started feeling a pain in her leg. It’s not unusual to have pain in your legs if you’ve been running multiple 100-mile races. The pain got so bad that she had to go see a doctor and after a number of tests, a visit to a specialist ends with her getting the news that she has MS. Shannon takes us through her process of dealing with the diagnosis and her journey of discovery, finding ways to fight back and continue to do the sport she loves.

There’s a great energy about her, and there’s a lot that we can learn from someone like Shannon, someone who puts themselves out there, faces their fears, and overcomes the pain that invariably gets everyone in some way or another.