By Will E Sanders
PIQUA — There is a headlamp strapped to Ryan King’s head illuminating the rock- and root-strewn trail laid out before him.
His blistered feet are sore, his mind and body are sleep-deprived, he is battling nausea and exhaustion, and his clothes are soaked in his own perspiration as he constantly regulates his calorie intake.
The sun is still hours away from rising over the eastern horizon at the Mohican State Park and King has already conquered the first 50-mile stretch of the run — the distance of running the Boston Marathon, back-to-back.
King is only halfway to the finish line and he has another 50 miles to go.
The rough and obstacle-laden trail at Mohican is as remote as it is scenic, but King is not here to sightsee.
He is here to run, and run he shall.
To painstakingly place one foot in front of the other without rest for 100 miles.
It is a journey that is twice as long as any distance King has ever attempted to run before.
And it is a journey that, all told, took him 29 hours and 50 minutes to complete.
King can’t stop running, and he is too stubborn to quit.
The toughness and commitment, both physical and mental, required to endure a consecutive 100-mile run is a daunting task.
“It’s all about being too stubborn to quit,” King said. “That proved to be the case. That is the best description of it. It’s tough, you’re tired and the biggest thing is having the desire to finish it. That’s the biggest trick.”
For King, the premiere 100-mile ultra-marathon at Mohican is not just about physical ability, but also mental fortitude.
The run began at 5 a.m. on June 21, and for King, it would not end until 10:50 a.m. the following day.
Over the night, King, who co-owns Can’t Stop Running, 321 N. Main St., Piqua, had the assistance of several pace runners, including one of his employees, Kyle Bowman, after mile 53. A pacer is a fellow runner who, in King’s own words, “keeps you going.”
“In the middle of the night, in the middle of the woods, with no ambient light except what is coming off of your headlamp, things like a pacer can really be a big help,” King said. “I had a lot of reservations about running at night. I have spent some time running with a headlamp before, about three hours. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be. You hear horror stories about hallucinations, but I had no problems with that. … When dawn finally came, it was rejuvenating.”
Aside from suffering from sheer exhaustion, a few blisters on his feet and a bruised Achilles tendon, King’s body and feet held out until the end.
“The course was actually tougher than the distance was in this particular case,” he said. “It has 12,000 feet of elevation gain and 12,000 feet of loss during the course. There were even some parts where we even had to do some hand-over-hand climbing. It was a tough course, but it was more challenging for me than the distance was. … With this being my first 100-mile run, it was all about finishing.”
For King, he said the run was more of a “mental thing,” and he is glad he accomplished the course.
He said he is already looking forward to the next one.
King, and his wife, Amanda, a co-owner of the business, have three children, Faith, Layla and Isabelle.
Will E Sanders may be reached at 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall.