Stalwart runners running, hiking, sleepwalking 100 miles through the piney woods of southeast Texas, all for a belt buckle and the honor of meeting a challenge few ever think to step up to and even fewer meet. A few of us gather to cheer, to clear mud from shoes, to ask when they last peed, to force them to drink warm broth (yes, we know you had some, have more), to make up games to try to stay warm and pass the time in the wee hours of the night while our runners were out there, running, running, running. Some of us pace, some give the shirt off their back, some hang around camp for hours waiting to jump into action for the five minutes our runners come in between loops.
I say "our" runners, like they're our property, but it's more that they were our charges. We were not there to run the distance ourselves, but we each had a role, we each wanted a part of it, we wanted to feel connected to all the strength and determination and grit that it takes to travel 100 miles on your own power.
FIGJAM was officially christened that night. We had been born previously, each of us arriving at our own level of awesomeness, on our own individual journeys, but that weekend was the debut of the bright yellow shirts and the nicknames and the crystallization of this motley band of amazing people that will go any distance to support and rally and encourage and love those who dare step up to a challenge and reach into and beyond themselves to be the best they can be.
Congrats to those who have finished their 100 mile journey tonight, you fast bastards. To those of you still out there, into the night, keep moving, lift your feet & watch out for the gators and prisoners. Joe P is waiting at the finish with your buckle, and FIGJAM is sending you all our strength.