There are about 41 million runners in the United States according to the Outdoor Industry Association. From treadmils to Olympians people run. Many people strive to go faster or farther. I do. If I could run a marathon under a certain time I would be so estatic, yet simply the ability to run one has been a blessing. Even the ability to run a mile is a blessing after an injury.
Much of the attention of running is focused on several standard events. Marathons are a huge draw. A strong athlete can make a living by running two marathons a year. That's it. Two races a year can make enough money to pay the bills, if you can run those two races fast enough. For non-professional runners, like most of us, it's not about making money but about accomplishing something that we are not entirely sure we can actually accomplish.
With that challenge in mind I have developed several other challenges for myself. Learning what it is possible to run. For example, this summer I had the opportunity to run some class 2 terrain. That is to say I have "run" across steep rock fields known as talus fields. It is very slow running, perhaps half as fast as running on flat ground. I have also run at high altitudes, even above 16,000 feet. So I have to ask what I see as the next logical question in both of those cases: Can I run class 3 terrain? Can I run even higher than 16,000 feet?
Running is defined as having both feet off of the ground at some point in the stride. I would add to that having boths hands in the air. Although, if I could run at 21,000 feet with treking poles I might. Opperation Everest (I, II, and III) have all studdied the response of humans to exercising in barometric chambers at altitudes equivalent to 29,000 feet. Under those conditions, people were able to exercise. However, 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 1/3 sea level air pressure is not the same as -20 degrees Fahrenheit and 1/3 sea level air pressure with a wind after you have been hiking for ten hours and camping for a month and a half.
So... I don't know what I can do. I know what I have done, and I know it was not easy. One step at a time I am learning. The future definately looks interesting.