Jeff Davis looked out on the dark horizon. A flash of lighting illuminated the length of trail he still had left to trek. After hours of running through the dark, any spot of light was appreciated; even if it was accompanied by a storm. Davis was now at mile 85 of a 100 mile ultra-marathon, The Bear 100. And thus far, his ultra experience had seen him through a complete cycle of weather, and a complete rotation of the earth’s axis.
In the midst of the pouring rain and physical exhaustion, Davis still saw this as a positive experience. Instead of using words like “draining” or “torturous”, he described the twists, turns, and oscillations of the last miles as “epic”. He wasn’t sure if a dam broke or just the sky, but at one point water was coming down the road like a rushing river. It left the ground sticky and required him and his crew to shuffle all the way to the last aid station. On his way to the station, Davis lost his footing as he crossed a stream and fell into a chilly river. Though he was now soaking wet, he had a new found alertness and desire to finish.
At this point in the race, many fellow runners dropped out. This particular year, The Bear had roughly half of the participants complete the race. So, what gave Davis the driving force to keep going? That answer was easy: his crew. He and friend Steven McNeal shared a crew of three that consisted of Beth Meadows, Daniel Hudgins, and Jonathan Minton. They provided him with fuel, pace, and company. All three of which allowed him to keep a level-head and clear mind. It allowed him to finish with a time of 28:21.
While he had indulged in a few 50-milers before, this was his first 100. And it kept him wanting more, even though 50s are logistically easier. Since the anatomy of a 100-mile race is so unique, it allowed him and his crew to have fun and fully embrace the challenge of running over the span of two sunrises and two different states. His advice to those wanting to run an ultra of this size:
“You can’t push the pace simply to race. It just needs to be experienced, especially a mountainous 100. Thanks to my family for supporting me and my crew for keeping every mile fun.”