A record fell this week. Actually it was crushed.
A guy named Tom (he does not want any publicity so no last name). Tom and I grew up together. Tom was a good athlete. A very good one who excelled at track in college. Like the rest of us, he got married, went to work and got softer around the middle. Nothing big, just a regular life.
One day, 15 years later, he is divorced and to make matters worse, he gets laid off. Tom is an eternal optimist. He is not a give up kind of guy. So, back to it. He starts dating again, and since no one will hire him, he starts his own business. Once again, nothing big, just a regular life.
He and his wife start backpacking in a certain area. They spend lots of time hiking the trails and climbing the peaks. They know the area really well. Every weekend they are backpacking in that area. For years.
One day Tom calls me and asks if I have ever heard of speedpacking. No I have not. He tells me about how these guys, using only a daypack, hike a couple of hundred miles in a very short time. They carry their clothes, bivy sack (a type of tent), and first aid stuff in the pack. They have helpers meet them at waystations with food. Some guys had set a very fast record for the trail that he and his wife hike. These same guys got all sorts of endorsements and a big article about them in a magazine. Tom is going to try and break the record.
5 years ago he set out to break it. Basically 50 miles a day for 5 days straight. I am to be one of his helpers bringing in food. On the fourth day he is a whole 20 hours ahead of the record. And then, something really devastating happens, Tom's knee goes out. It locks up to the point that he can no longer even bend his leg. He tries to limp on ahead for the last 17 miles but he cant make it. He crawled to the nearest road and got a ride to his destination. He laid in a hotel bathtub for 24 hours.
It took Tom a few months of physical therapy to be able to walk normally again. He started training again. He had to take off a year to help his mom care for his dad. His dad died from a brain tumor. His second wife got sick and died from breast cancer 3 years ago. 2 years ago Tom suffered a brain seizure and had amnesia for a few weeks. He all but lost his business.
Last month he calls me. We talk about old times, politics, the weather. Then he springs it on me: He is going for the record again. This time he will do it all alone. No helpers. No bivy sack. He will be carrying a heavier backpack. He asks if I will drop him off and pick him up. No problem. I drop him off. It is a straight 250 miles through absolute wilderness. The record has been broken a few times since his last attempt. He tells me the time to beat. See ya later. Oh, yeah, he says, pick me up in 4 days. That is well ahead of the record.
I pick him up on the appointed day. He looks pretty rough, but not too bad considering. I ask him if I am the only one who knows about this. No, his mom will also. No one else. I tell him he just creamed the record and maybe someone might want to know about it. He says that I can tell anyone I like, but do not give his name. He did not do it for that. He did not break the record for acclaim. I ask him if he did it for his dad or his wife. Nope.
"Kevin, it was there". End of the matter.