For all those who tackled the Vermont Spartan World Championships this weekend:
“The hardest part was coming to terms with the constant dispiriting discovery that there is always more hill. The thing about being on a hill, as opposed to standing back from it, is that you can almost never see exactly what’s to come. Between the curtain of trees at every side, the ever-receding contour of rising slope before you, and your own plodding weariness, you gradually lose track of how far you have come. Each time you haul yourself up to what you think must surely be the crest, you find that there is in fact more hill beyond, sloped at an angle that kept it from view before, and that beyond that slope there is another, and beyond that another and another, and beyond each of those more still, until it seems impossible that any hill could run on this long. Eventually you reach a height where you can see the tops of the topmost trees with nothing but clear sky beyond, and your faltering spirit stirs – nearly there now! – but this is a pitiless deception. The elusive summit continually retreats by whatever distance you press forward, so that each time the canopy parts enough to give a view you are dismayed to see that the topmost trees are as remote, as unattainable, as before. Still you stagger on. What else can you do?
When, after ages and ages, you finally reach the telltale world of truly high ground, where the chilled air smells of pine sap and the vegetation is gnarled and tough and wind bent, and push through to the mountain’s open pinnacle, you are, alas, past caring. You sprawl face down on a sloping pavement of gneiss, pressed into the rock by the weight of your pack, and lie there for some minutes, reflecting in a distant, out-of-body way that you have never before looked this closely at lichen, not in fact looked this closely at anything in the natural world since you were four years old and had your first magnifying glass. Finally, with a weary puff, you roll over, unhook yourself from your pack, struggle to your feet and realize again – in a remote, light -headed, curiously not there way – that the view is sensational: a boundless vista of wooded mountains, unmarked by human hand, marching off in every direction. This really could be heaven. It’s splendid, no question, but the thought you cannot escape is that you have to walk this view, and this is the barest fraction of what you will traverse before you’ve finished.”
For all of those who tackled Killington at the Spartan World Championships this weekend, this is for you. It’s not my recap, that is coming soon, but instead is a hilarious passage that I coincidentally stumbled up on in a book I was reading last night. It couldn’t be more appropriate. Thank you Bill Bryson, for summing up exactly how we all felt: there is ALWAYS more hill.