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Ultra runners are no strangers to race registration lotteries.
You see, in the trail and ultra running world, races are more often than not held in forests, parks, or on mountains that simply cannot accommodate the thousands (or tens of thousands) of participants you see in traditional road races. For this reason, as well as permitting issues, ultras tend to have a very limited number of registrations available for any given race. For example, in 2018 exactly 29,979 runners were registered to run the Boston Marathon (source). However in the same year, the Western States Endurance Run 100, considered by many to be the “Boston Marathon equivalent” in the trail and ultra world, only allowed 369 entrants, due to U.S. Forest Service permitting.
Therefore, the more popular races often hold a lottery to make the registration process as fair as possible, and in theory, giving everyone an equal chance to run specific races.
As it turns out, a lot of races that are on my proverbial “bucket list” are also on everyone else’s bucket list. And with those races comes…you guessed it…a lottery entry process.
I have wanted to run the Georgia Death Race, a 68ish mile brutal ultra in the mountains of Georgia, eversince I had first heard of it. Which if you are wondering, was many years after I had heard – and experienced – and hallucinated at – the Spartan Death Race (working for three years on race staff).
For a long time, I had no idea there was any Death Race but the one held in Pittsfield, Vermont. Come to find out there are multiple Death Races, not only in Vermont, but in Canada, and the one in question, somewhere in the mountains of Georgia. All, of course, claim to be “so hard you may die” or something to that effect. The Georgia Death Race however, appears to be much more “you may want to die because of these stupid hard climbs” ultra running, versus the Spartan Death Race “we might actually, literally lose you and your bucket in the woods after 48 hours of crafting buckskin loin cloths and performing 200 cartwheels in a row…and then you might die.” type of proverbial death.
I have no idea what they are doing up in Canada, but I’ll get back to you about that one someday.
I’m getting off track here.
In short: I entered the lottery for the Georgia Death Race. But I didn’t get in.
Many of my friends did get in, and though I waited for two full days after the lottery drawing, the email saying that I had been accepted my card had been charged for registration never came through. I was disappointed, sure, but just for a few minutes. There are plenty of other races to be run, and plenty of more years to enter this particular lottery.
So I went about my business.
Then one day, Sean Blanton, race director for the Georgia Death Race posted that there might be another way to earn an entry…through fundraising for the American Cancer Society. It hit me right then and there, like an internet slap to the face, that this was something I had to do. If not for the Georgia Death Race, then for another race.
There’s a lot of joking about “dying” in a lot of these extreme endurance events. But for people battling cancer: death, and fighting like hell to avoid it, is an everyday reality.
Most of you know already, but incase you hadn’t heard: my dad was diagnosed this summer with stage 3 lung cancer. It was an accidental diagnosis, as the cancer was discovered during a routine check for something completely unrelated. He was not experiencing any symptoms at the time. I cannot even begin to tell you how fortunate my family feels for the doctor who said “hey wait a minute, what’s this thing over here?” and discovered the cancer before the prognosis was even worse.
Yet still, my world felt like it was crumbling around me when I heard the news.
I could go on a diatribe about how fucking unfair cancer is. How I’ve lost too many friends to cancer, how I’ve witnessed the heartache from too many widows who have lost their soulmates to cancer, and how I stand idly by watching friends and family who are currently fighting cancer, when there is not a damn thing I can do.
Except that I feel my words would fall on numb ears (or eyes, in this case) because the reality is: we’ve all been there. We’re all there, now. I bet you would be hard pressed to find a human being on this earth that has not been directly affected by cancer somehow, having either received a diagnosis themselves, or have lost a friend or a loved one to a cancer diagnosis.
(Not so) Fun Fact: I started this blog in 2009 simply so I could keep track of my fundraising efforts for Team Fight, a part of the Ulman Cancer Fund. NINE YEARS LATER, we’re still here. We’re still fundraising for a “cure”. It boggles my mind that with all of the incredible, sometimes unfathomable, technology we’ve been able to come up with, we still don’t have a cure for cancer.
I’m slightly off track again. Back to the Death Race.
When Sean announced the potential ACS connection, I knew that was something I had to do. So I pestered him, and told him I wanted in. He told me to check back later. Later came, I pestered again. He told me he was busy directing a race, come back again in two weeks. Two weeks later, I asked again…no response.
At this point, it wasn’t even about the Georgia Death Race for me, it was about making my miles count for something more, something bigger and more important than myself. As soon as I started contemplating what steps I should take to fundraise on my own accord, perhaps for another race, I got the email.
Only two spots were available to fundraise for the American Cancer Society for the Georgia Death Race.
I sent an email back…and long story short, here I am. Proud member of American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation Ultra Team.
The initial goal set for me? To raise $1,250.00 to help ACS in the fight against cancer, and to complete the 2019 Georgia Death Race.
The goal set by me? To raise $6,800.00 ish to help ACS in the fight against cancer…one hundred dollars for each of the 68ish miles of the Georgia Death Race.
Oh, and to complete the 2019 Georgia Death Race, of course.
I’m going to have to get mighty creative to reach that fundraising goal. But that sort of hustle and hard work is nothing compared to what our friends, family, and loved ones who are battling a cancer diagnosis deal with. And if there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s run. And write about it, of course. So if running and writing can somehow help the fight? I’m going to do it.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
- You can donate by clicking THIS LINK and following the instructions on the page.
- You can share the following link with your friends and family: http://main.acsevents.org/goto/HeatherHart
- You can continue to check back to my blog and cheer me on.
I appreciate any and all of the above more than you’ll ever know.
For Dad. For Dawn. For Stephanie. For Ben. For Holly. For every survivor, for everyone fighting, for everyone who gave it their all.
Let’s do this.
p.s. Fuck you, cancer.