How Persistence at the Peak Ultra changed Nick Bautista Forever
500 miles, 9 days.
I first attempted the Peak Races 500 mile back in 2013. I made it 460 miles before my body could not move forward any longer.
I returned in 2014 to finish what I had began. Stepping foot back onto that mountain was like visiting an old friend with whom I had an intimate and complicated relationship with. A plethora of emotions flooded me.
The previous year, the mountain taught me how to suffer. The following year, I planned on reaching that level of suffering once again, but to take it even further. To break my body and my mind in order to become something, someone new.
It started the same; rain, mud, cold nights. Soul crushing climbs. Quad bashing descents just around the corner. I could see the mountain change. I ran. And I ran harder and faster. I could not let myself take a break or rest or power hike while on the mountain. I could rest when it was time to sleep.
After a while, I no longer became a runner in a race, on a treacherous course. I became part of the mountain; the rocks, the trees, the animals. It assimilated me, and it was in my bones. I was a speck of dirt on this giant. The repetitive circling became a meditation. Each step forward I was stripped of the petty things in life. I was breaking myself, and becoming aware of another self. Yet I was nothing.
I was silent on my last loop. I finished in 9 days, in the dark, how I wanted it. Quiet and calm. I was scared to finish, though. What was I going to do when I finally stopped? I thought about continuing on regardless of reaching 500 miles…
The very first finisher back in 2012, my dear friend Willy Syndram, said to me, “This will change you forever.” The person who stepped off of that mountain was not the same as the one who got there 9 days previously. There are no words that can explain, only tears and a heaviness in my heart. That mountain is sacred to me. And I will return…
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