create (a relationship or new conditions).
Part 1 was written in haste. Call it an excuse, but it was my wife’s birthday. I enjoy life 🤣 As we’ve made a habit of saying – I had to adapt, and I enjoy living 🤣❤️🔥😇 On the topic of relationships, these deserve to be shared.
Chris Andersen. Also known as “The Czar”. Collector of Marji Gesick #quitter texts. You should see the stuff people send him. Oh my. I wonder if he remembers the year I gave his phone number out to 900+ racers and encouraged them to fuck with him 🤣🤣🤣 We were at Queen City Running Co. for the 100-mile Ultra Run packet pickup. He was working, I was bored. So I sent the email out and waited for the fireworks. He’s up there working with my wife and volunteers doing their thing, they’re the best by the way. I watch him pull his phone from his pocket. He makes a weird face – puts it back. I smile. It’s beginning. Another alert prompts him to check it again. He holds it close to his face, then far away, as if I can’t believe his eyes. He shows my wife 🤣 and puts it back in his pocket. It isn’t long and he’s grabbing it again. This time I see him mouth the words “what the fuck”. I’m smiling. We lock eyes. He walks to me. WHAT DID YOU DO. ❤️❤️❤️
Chris was more than good, he was the best. His wife Julie too, and their son Mack. They were family first, friends second, and uber-volunteers third. Chris was with me every step of the way until the day they moved to Texas. The most significant loss I experienced in many years – on multiple fronts. A huge loss for our family too. Mack was like a son. Mack IS like a son. We rode bikes together. We celebrated birthdays together. Share an anniversary together. Volunteered together. Cried together. Laughed together. We went through shit together. I once held him in a Hopslam stooper (both of us), me fully clothed and him wearing a bike helmet, t-shirt, and underwear. Julie swooped in and picked our asses up. I don’t think we ever found his pants.
I’d give anything to have a few minutes at 3:00am on Main Street in Ishpeming back – with him. That’s where we became not friends, but brothers. In the fire. Delirious from sleep deprivation. Staring at green and red dots, and a list of names, wondering where the fuck they’re at (reference to people unaccounted for and still thought to be on course). That’s when you find what a person is made of – in the wee hours doing something for nothing but the fucking cause. And for your consideration – it was not always perfect. We would get mad at each other. We would grumble under our breath and swear “never to do this fucking thing again” – but then we’d have beers when it was all over celebrating the success… and talk about next year. Relationships forged in fire withstand fire. Relationships
Tom, shown above, has suffered with us as a competitor and a volunteer. I still recall a time when we were on vacation in Duluth, Minnesota, he and Josh recognized Stacie and I in a local restaurant, and bought us lunch. Keep in mind they really only knew us as “that asshole who runs Polar Roll” and “his poor wife”, and they’re buying us lunch?
Some years later I’ve had the privilege of seeing Tom at more 906AT events, most notably as a volunteer. He helped run The Crusher ultra run in 2019. First volunteering to recon the route by backpacking it early in the spring (solo), then serving as the event RD on race day. I’ve seen this pattern many times. Racer comes to the event. Racer is immersed in the experience and ethos of the event and organization. Racer is taken back by the collaborative nature of participants and over-arching message: It’s you vs. YOU. Racer wants to give back and see the experience from another perspective.
Lunch in Duluth, racing, and race directing aside… it will ever compare to the time we shared shoulder to shoulder battling mother nature in 2019, as part of the Polar Roll Bushwhackers. Countless people showed up locally and from afar to help open up thirty-plus miles of trail that had been iced in, then snowed in, a little more than a week before the race. Damage to the race course was catastrophic. The situation was hopeless. We pressed on. AND ON. Everyone helped and without a one of em’ we were screwed, but Tom (and Dave pictured below) were there with me for the forty-eight hours leading up to race-day. Never left my side. Didn’t have to be there, Tom from Duluth and Dave from Traverse City. Why did they even care? Moments like these reveal the real people in your life. Who’s there when things are at their worst? I think too often we’re quick to forget and focus more on “what have you done for me lately’. A poor human trait for sure. I owe Tom a great debt, not because he’s a great friend, but because he’s a great human.
And then we have David Cate. My brother. He was part of the Bushwhacker crew too, and so much more. Triple Crown finisher. Former 906AT board member. Crusher volunteer. Marji volunteer. Friend. Sounding board. Legal advisor. A man of many hats. We’ve ridden together very little, ironically. All of our time together has been spent in service. He moved to Germany in 20′ to be with his wife, and a day doesn’t go by that he isn’t missed. In the picture above, he’s on my right. One of the last times we spent together. He wanted to be there when I did Marji, so I moved up my date to start before he flew out. He chased us around for twenty-five hours. Arranged to have the bag pipes played for us at Top of the world – just like race day. Countless little details, and friendly harassment, of-course. I’ve been through some of my life’s toughest moments with him the past handful of years. I laugh at the thought of his dry sense of humor, when he knows I need to focus, and he’s there trying to provoke me with bad jokes and one-liners. He’d laugh at it too if we were together, that prick 🤣. It’s another relationship, an example of another human, my brother, where the basis of what we shared together has been born from adversity and struggle. The highs of life, some lows, but never a cross word. Respect each other always. Never contentious, nor contempt. Imperfect, just right. You never replace guys like Dave, or Chris, and Tom. I’m sure you have your version of the three too.
I think I can close now. I wrote this and Part 1 as a way to begin the year reflecting on the real people who have helped us accomplish so much. I’m the guy you see… and occasionally blame. I’m in the podcasts promoting community, the 906AT lifestyle, and different life perspectives. I do the interviews and run the events… BUT I NEED TO BE VERY CLEAR… None of this happens, would have happened, or will continue to happen without the people like Eddie, Dave, Tom, Chris, Marc, and many more. Too many to name. Never forget them. Love and thank your support crew. Respect the sacrifices, and find a way to give back.