Advantage: Me

“I’ll get you some Greek salad,” I told Patrick, popping up from my camp chair and making my way to the long table, stacked with burgers, salads, chips and cookies, the thwap thwap of my flip flops signaling my steps away and then back again.

Over the course of the morning, Patrick and I had made our way separately to Randle High School, and the finish line of the Bigfoot 200, a 206.5 mile, point-to-point race in central Washington. While I was a bit lighter on my feet by virtue of the fact that I’d finished before Patrick and, hence, my legs were a little more rested, the real reason I offered to fetch him a snack was his feet: they were blistered to shreds.

In fact, nearly everyone’s feet were bandaged and sore. Individual toes; all the toes; heels; balls; pads… if you didn’t know better, you might think this groups had spent the morning standing atop hot coals, rather than making their way over 42,000ft of elevation gain and descent, taking 60-105 hours.

Everyone’s feet, but mine.

Sure, my pedicure had faded over 206 miles; and I had dirt under my big toenails, but there was little other evidence I’d been on my feet for 96 hours and 54 minutes straight; wading through stream crossings and crunching through gravel. Hearing other runners’ stories of footcare debacles in the past made me suspect I had “good feet,” but it wasn’t until Bigfoot that I realized my feet weren’t just good; they were blister-resistant, magic unicorn feet.

And my magic unicorn feet meant that what I had endured for much of my race (or, more accurately, what I had not endured) was very different — far easier — than what others had endured. I’m not the fastest; I’m not a naturally gifted runner; but my magic unicorn feet will always give me an advantage.

It’s easy to look at elite runners and think they have all the advantages, but the truth is, we all have advantages. Like the super-supportive spouse that makes lunch after a long run; the really good job that affords a private coach; lungs that are impervious to the effect of high altitude; or magic unicorn feet.

An epic 8.5 hour training effort in the ice, snow, slush and mud of a Pacific Northwest winter.

And I think about this, as I sit in a pedicure chair 20 hours after completing an 8 1/2 hour training run so muddy, slushy, and sloppy that I had to wash my worn socks twice to get the dirt out of them. But my unicorn feet are blister free.

Advantage: Me.

20 hours post-race: sandal ready!

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