Dead last. That’s what he was. Dead last.
After trekking through steep mountain climbs, rolling hills and valleys. After enduring hot summer temperatures and a dark night out in the Wasatch Mountain Range, Jack Carrick of Saratoga Springs crossed the finish line of the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run on Sept. 7 as the last one to do so that day.
But this isn’t a story of defeat. In the world of 100-mile races, there is no such thing. This is a story of endurance and of finding one’s self in the process.
Carrick’s story may seem like an ordinary one. He is a husband, a father and a working man who has found solace in the constant forward motion that running provides. And like many, the quest for improving his running abilities has been a driving force.
Even so, ordinary stories have the potential to become extraordinary when extraordinary measures are taken — like embarking on a 100-mile journey.
That journey began several years ago when a good friend and co-worker of his, Jared Campbell, suggested he run ultramarathons. And if you have followed the ultrarunning world over the past several years, you know that Jared Campbell suggesting you run an ultra is like Michael Jordan telling you to play basketball. Campbell has completed the infamous Barkley Marathons three times and has broken the record for summiting all 19 of Utah’s tallest peaks, doing so in under 33 hours.
As insurmountable as it seemed, Carrick took his friend up on his challenge, running the 2011 Pocatello 50-miler and finishing somewhere in the middle of the pack. Something about that first ultramarathon had him wanting more. He completed several 50- and 100-kilometer (32-64 mile) races and understood what it meant to train hard and dig deep. Still, he felt he had more to give. More than that, there were still things he had to learn about himself and about life, and embarking on a 100-mile journey through the Wasatch Mountain Range was his choice avenue to learn those things.
Learning he has a father who cares
Prior to the race, Carrick, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was offered a blessing by his father. The blessing taught him an important lesson about a father’s love.
“Before the race, my dad asked if I wanted a blessing,” said Carrick. “I felt a little silly, and thought that my Heavenly Father really didn’t care about something as silly as a 100-mile race. But my dad reminded me that if it was important to me, it was important to my Heavenly Father. I felt the love of my earthly and Heavenly Father very strongly when that blessing was given.”
It takes a village
“I wasn’t alone out there,” Carrick said. “I had my pacers, Mark Davis, Ben Hooley and Dave Ellis, who kept me company and moving forward. Mark came wearing a furry Captain America hat, and Ben shaved his head into a mohawk to start things off in light spirits while running long miles with me. And Dave was there during my darkest times when I wanted to quit, constantly telling me that I still had time if I kept moving forward. My dad and son were also there to run me in the last mile.
“I learned that it really does take a village to complete a 100-mile race, just like it does in life. We need each other.”
It’s about enduring to the end
“When I crossed the finish line, there were spectators and previous finishers cheering me on as the last-place finisher,” he said. “Folks made some uplifting comments after seeing me come in last. For example, one came up and said, ‘Wasatch 100 is an endurance race and you were out on the course enduring the longest!’ That gave me a positive perspective on the outcome of my race.
“It’s all about doing something you set out to do, and not compare yourself to others. Pride comes in when you do that. Everyone is fighting their own demons, and it doesn’t matter what place you come in, just that you endured to the end.”
Carrick’s total time was 35 hours, 57 minutes and 32 seconds, coming in just 2 minutes 28 seconds under the 36-hour cutoff time. He was finisher number 208 out of over 300 who had started the race, taking home the title of runner who endured the very longest.
Arianne Brown is a mom of nine, who writes for many local and national publications. She finds solace at home with her family and logging miles anywhere her feet will take her. Many of her writings can be found by searching “A Mother’s Write” on Facebook. Contact her at email@example.com.