"No matter how bad you think it is, never give up, because guess what, it may not be as bad as you thought it was."
Jeb Corliss shared this lesson he learned with Conan following his—seemingly un-survivable—crash on Table Mountain. It wasn’t his first crash, and it may not be his last, but he’s been quite open about what brought him to skydiving in the first place. He uses his jumps to chase his personal demons away, pushing himself farther, faster, and closer to the edge, and as long as the sport doesn’t kill him, it appears to be working.
Ultra-Runners have more in common with Jeb that you may think. Many of them are also chasing demons, using the tremendous personal challenge of running 50 or 100 miles, or even more, to explore their boundaries—to get closer to the edge—because coming back from the edge makes life’s hardships seem trivial… for a while, then it is time for a new challenge.
Eric Friedman, a skydiver, an ultra-runner, and maybe just a little challenge starved, enjoyed running with a friend around their drop zone before a day of jumping. It was a regular habit and neither thought much more about it until, one day, while jogging on the beach in Hollywood, his combination of habits, and hunger for a new challenge gave Eric a crazy idea, “What if we combine skydiving with ultra-running? That would be awesome!”
Like taking chocolate and peanut butter, smashing them into a ball, and launching that ball into space… and then making the ball run 50 miles, the first Skydive Ultra was born. Loosely organized, and with limited promotion, the first event attracted the nuttiest of the demon chasers who, based on the pictures, seem thrilled to be falling two miles before running 50.
That was last year, and it was a small but memorable success. This year is going to be bigger, better, and even nuttier. 50 miles? Nah, make it an even 100. This will be for top honors but everybody likes to skydive and run right? So, this year, in addition to the 100 miler, there will be a 50 mile, a 50 kilometer, and some ‘short’ races like, you know, a marathon. There will even be a half-marathon and a 10k for you regular skydivers that just want in on the action.
Skydive Ultra 2014 is February 1-2 (Yep, two days, have you ever run a 100 miles?) The drop zone is located in Clewiston, Florida but participants are coming from all over the world. If you aren’t already a skydiver maybe you thought that was your excuse, nope, first time jumpers are the biggest part of the fun! Tandem jumps will be offered but licensed jumpers are, of course, required to encouraged to participate.
Bring your not-so-nutty friends and family, there will be plenty of fun to be had. There will be a tire-pull competition as well as horseshoes, Frisbee, volleyball, and more. Visit Skydive Ultra on Facebook, Google+, and YouTube to keep up with the event news and stop by the website for all the details.
Maybe we aren’t all chasing demons, maybe we’re chasing dreams, or maybe we’re just chasing the guy in front of us, but no matter what you’re chasing, “…never give up…”