There are some people whom you meet, that when looking back, you realize that they changed the course of your life. Someone who helped you realize that a pipe dream wasn’t really out of reach, that a fleeting thought or daydream could be realized. For me Lisa Gunnoe is one of those people.
As the Chapter Captain, she has led the building of Team RWB Central Arkansas. Her hard work and dedication have made the chapter into what it is today. It was through Team RWB that I first came into contact with her.
The first time I met Lisa, the conversation turned to this thing I had just read about called ultra-running. I asked her if she knew about it and this race that I had just heard about called Western States. Of course she knew about this. She told me that she herself was one of those mythical people I heard about, those ultra-runners.
She told me about the troubles and trials of getting into Western States, but that there were such races in Arkansas and all over the country. I was like a child, just starting to learn about running. In fact, I was less than 2 months away from my first half-marathon.
Over the next few months, Lisa and I saw each other, mostly at races. It seems she was there at the big moments; like my first marathon finish, she was there with my wife and friends. She was the one who thought to capture that moment I first became a marathon finisher, but what I didn’t know was that we were slowly building up to something much bigger.
That something was a trust and confidence in each other. Sometime in the summer of 2015 she asked a question, would my wife and I pace her during her first 100 mile race? Of course we would. Who wouldn’t want to go play in the woods in the middle of the night? This was a daring move on her part; at that time neither my wife or I had done any trail running, NONE!
Running 100 miles is an epic adventure, you are putting your body through things previously unimagined. You need a pacer, someone to watch over you during those low points, someone to think for you at times. Lisa was willing to trust us with this task, green as we were. What she was doing was taking me outside of my comfort zone; something I’ve come to realize she does very well. I’ll be honest though, I think I was almost as nervous as Lisa was.
Here is her recap of the race, but what she leaves out is the most amazing part. After I had finished my pacing duties, Elaine took over. With about 3 miles to go, they came upon a runner who was face down in the ditch. She had apparently taken a wrong turn and added a few miles. Her legs had seized up and she could no longer move. This must have sucked any hope she had. Lisa and Elaine later admitted to me that they thought for a moment that this lady might have been dead. Lisa massaged her legs and got her sitting up.
Lisa eventually got this runner on to her feet, the poor lady was going to have to quit so close to the finish. Lisa would have none of it. This is typical of her, she is always pushing people to their best. She is also a protector, never letting someone go to far. I jokingly call her Mama Bear. Always the there to make sure everyone is getting and giving their best.
This runner was now without a pacer. Lisa and Elaine offered to step in and paced her to the finish. This incident added to her time. The cutoff was 30 hours and she would be cutting it close without helping. The race director agreed to let her finish and give her an official time, which ended up at 32 hours. She finished, but she had an asterisk next to her name which meant she did not finish in the allotted 30 hours, but finished nonetheless.
In just a few hours, Lisa will stand at the start line once again. tomorrow night, my wife and I will meet her to run in the woods at night again. Her goal? Erase the asterisk, plain and simple, 100 miles for some redemption. She assures me that, if need be, she will stop for dead runners.