After watching The Runner, I was ready to lace up my shoes (or Velco up my VFFs) and follow Horton's footsteps on the trail. The DVD has the benefit of both the visual element--the scenery was spectacular--and the time element--you get the whole experience in less than 80 minutes. By contrast, after reading A Quest for Adventure, I was convinced that if I ever run or hike the Appalachian Trail, I will do it nice and slow, preferably in chunks. And I don't think I ever want to run across the U.S.
Horton does love to run, that's clear. Unfortunately, the tone of Quest leans more toward pain, loneliness, and suffering. Horton's wife was reluctant to send him away for the months the AT run would take. He frequently speaks of how he missed her, of crying on the trail, of longing for home. Some days he had someone running with him, but much of his time was spent running alone. I'm sure the scenery was great, and the trails were great, but that paled in the misery of the long days (30-40 miles or more) day after day after day. Even his finish in Maine seemed anticlimactic.
|OK, I've run the whole trail and set a new record. Can I go home now?|
Please don't hear me saying that I minimize or belittle the accomplishment of running across the U.S. or setting the AT record. But I'm left asking, Why? Horton, a Christian who teaches at a Christian university, speaks frequently about glorifying God in his accomplishments and relying on God's strength and provision. He said he felt the prayers of his many friends and acquaintances who were praying for him, and he sensed God's answers to his prayers along the way. I was reminded of the time I was deep into a 50 miler and asked God for his help to finish strong. I clearly heard God laugh at me and say, "I never asked you to sign up for this race! You're on your own, buddy!" (OK, so maybe that wasn't really the voice of God. . . .)
|During the Trans American run, David paused at the crossroads of the AT and the Trans America course.|
The other striking thing is that he grew stronger through each run. Rather than wearing him down, the daily runs built up his conditioning, so that he was running as strong, if not stronger, near the end as at the beginning! Clearly, this type of feat is nor for everyone, but it seems to agree with Horton.
A Quest for Adventure may not be the most beautifully written or profound book you've ever read, but as a journal of 2 remarkable runs, and as a resource for those who want to take on such a challenge, it's worth a read.
More info on the book here: http://www.extremeultrarunning.com/quest.htm.