My story of Why I Rock the Ridge (50 Mile Edurance Challenge)
A couple years ago my family and I went through some hardships through the loss of two very important lives. The grief overwhelmed me. I began coping through various means all of which were unhealthy. I made a decision to honor the lost members of my family as opposed to killing my body because of the sadness. The result of which was my first attempt at Rock the Ridge.
In my first (2018) year I made it to the third leg and was tagged out by the medic out of concerns for hypothermia. In 2019, with bloody feet, I was able to cross the finish line and complete the endurance challenge.
During the 2019 race, at the point I completed mile 32.5 the grief came pouring in. I decided to atttempt an ultra to give myself an unaccomplishable task, something that I can chase forever to get away from the darkness. At mile 32.5 I had completed that task and still had 18 miles to go. All of a sudden the race was no longer about grief but about the power the people I lost imbued me with on their way out. The power to accomplish whatever I set my mind to and get past my sadnesses, fears, and bad habits. The power to Roc k the Ridge and make them and myself prouf of the accomplishment.
The race was now mine to run and complete.
Around mile 37 the blisters began to become unbearable and I had to wrap my foot to keep running. My mile 42 I had lost a few toenails and the pain was effectively unbearable. Yet I still had 8 miles to go.
Around mile 45 the literal darkness settled in as night fell on us. I was struck with fear as I was injured, and in so much pain and now alone in the dark forest. At that point I heard a rustle in a field. I whipped my head right and their stood an extremely large bobcat who sitting stood 4' tall. The bobcat looked at me and stuck out his tongue in an act of excitement and started to walk towards me. I got big and yelled "No!" as I did not want to be dinner. The bobcat stalked me for 1.5 miles down the trail. The bobcat was relentless in following me down the trail as I continued to scream "No".
I hobbled into the aid station at mile 48 and the staff immediately said "Sir are you ok? Do you need to tag out and get assistance?" My reply was simply "No I need water but I also need you to go get that bobcat off the trail. It was trying to eat me".
I pushed on despite the pain -- blood coming up from my feet through my socks proudly displaying the pain I was in. My knee was starting to hurt, every step was absolute pain.
I was able to see the finishing gate and I realized how close I was but I had nothing left in me and I was a half mile out. I remebered running with my 7 year old daughter and showing her how daddy plays in the forest. To keep my mind in check I would play games with the woods. One of those games was to scream out a healthy Freddy Mercury "Ayyyyyyy Ohhhhh" so I could hear the forest's echos. At that point I realzed my daughter would hear it if I belted out a Freddy and with all my remaining energy I screamed "Ayyyyyyyyy Ohhhhhh" . Within 5 seconds I hear the squeakist little girl voice call back with a "Ayyyy Ohhh" . With bloody feet, a bum knee, and missing toe nails I began to run. I needed to finish. I needed to make her proud. I needed to finish what I started. I earned this.
As I approached the last 1/8th mile I began to sprint like I have never sprinted before. I crossed the finish line sprinting and crying and never being able to be the same man again.
I officially rocked the ridge and in the process transformed my only perspective on what I or any other human being is capable of.
I have never felt a feeling like that before and will never forget it.
Days later I was telling my story to my running mentor and the bobcat part came up. He giggled and said "You really think there was a bobcat, lol" . I was struck with confusion and replied "What do you mean?" He stated very politely and like the dad persona he can embody, "I think you should google ultramarathon hallucination" .
I was awestruck -- there never was a bobcat. It was a product of my mind to inspire me to keep going. It was fictional. it was my own creation. The bobcat is significant because at first I thought it was placed there by a very specifical person I lost, but in truth it was placed there by my own brain. My mind gave me exactly what I needed to push my body through the tasks of finishing. My mind which I battled the entire race while I managed my body suddenly tagged in and ensured I was going to complete.
Rock the Ridge changed me forever. Rock the Ridge showed me who I was. And it is for this reason I have taken the nickname Bobcat. So please join me in Chasing Bobcat and helping Rock the Ridge.
Shawanga mother fuckers!
Rock The Ridge is a 50-mile endurance challenge...
Set in the natural beauty of the Shawangunk Mountains of New York’s Hudson Valley, an area described as “one of Earth’s last great places,” the goal is to run or hike a 50-mile course within 18 hours. What better way to spend a day than winding along well-maintained carriage roads, through lush forests and over ridgelines with magnificent vistas.
Rock The Ridge supports a great cause...
This event supports Mohonk Preserve’s mission to protect the Shawangunk Mountains region and inspire people to care for, enjoy, and explore their natural world. With over 8,000 acres of mountain ridges, forests, fields, streams, ponds, and other unique and beautiful places, Mohonk Preserve is the largest member and visitor-supported nature preserve in New York State.
We salute all Ridge Rockers, who since 2013 have collectively raised over $1,800,000 to support Mohonk Preserve’s award-winning conservation science, environmental education, land protection, and stewardship programs.
Rock The Ridge is a major achievement...
The 18-hour time limit accommodates people with a range of abilities, including hikers, joggers, runners, and ultramarathoners. We’ve hosted elite athletes alongside first-time 50-milers and relay teams that walked the entire distance. Any distance can be a struggle if you don’t prepare properly, but with a good training program, 50 miles is an achievable goal! And, for those who aren’t ready for 50-miles, the Relay division allows Ridge Rockers to complete the course in two-or four-member teams.
Whether you hike, run, or do some of each, Rock The Ridge will be an accomplishment that you’ll remember with pride.