There is a Japanese proverb which Running Times Magz. and Scott Jurek made popular in running circles which translates "Stumble seven times, get up eight times". Long before the Japanese used it, Solomon said "They may trip seven times, but each time they will rise again" -Proverbs 24:16 (NLT) Either way the Proverb is appropriate to those who participate in the sport of long distance running, arguably more so when your surface of choice is trail. This spirit of "Perseverance over defeat" filled the air in Squaw Valley in the days following the cancellation of Western States.
With the wind shifting to the south, the air in Squaw Valley improved considerably Friday morning giving us all a chance to get out a run a bit this along with the announcement that we would all receive automatic entries into next years race, lifted peoples spirits and began to get people to think about moving on from the very somber place many of us were on Thursday. For me Friday marked the official beginning of training for Vermont although at this time the whole idea of the Grand Slam was still very much up in the air. Rick, Gabe and I decided to head up the 2,600 vertical feet to Emigrant Pass (this we decided is a cruel way to start a race) and and continue on before turning around at about 7.5 mile mark and heading back. The rest of the day was filled with rare one on one time with Karen (something we just don't get enough of) concluding with a dinner the Western State folks put together in about 36 hours. This time was filled with stories about where you were when you heard the race was canceled and how you would explain to your spouse you spent all that money to get here and all you have to show for it is one expensive T-Shirt. Everyone said they would be back for next year and how this experience would make that much sweeter to get across the finish line. Updates on the fires that were engulfing Northern California indicated that two fires had actually moved onto the Western States Trail and that 100 miles down the road in Auburn the air quality had gotten so bad you could hardly see across the street. If there was still any doubt in anyones mind whether the WSER board had made the right call this pretty well ended it.