Just after midnight on Saturday, June 30, 2007, the sound of my cell phone alarm clock woke both Brian and I from a state of semi-consciousness. It was hard to sleep that night knowing that we would be rising before most people our age were home from the bar. Brian was out of bed before me, packing up his race gear and making himself some toast with almond butter – his latest vice. We were out the door shortly thereafter.
This morning was the start of many of these ungodly wake ups but this one in particular was especially memorable. It was the day that Brian became an ultrarunner. His choice would have been to make the Mt. Disappointment 50 Miler the first of his many conquests, but unfortunately, a qualifier had to be completed before entering this notoriously difficult race. We were off for a road trip from Los Angeles to beautiful Pacifica, CA so that he could qualify and that is just what he did. Brian’s ultrarunning career began in style, completing his first 50k that day in 6:19:45 and placing 11th overall.
Brian is my ‘significant other,’ significant in regards to our relationship as well as being the inspiration behind many of my questionable endeavors. He has encouraged me on many occasions to step outside of my comfort zone and find out who I can be, both as an ultrarunner and a person. It would be impossible not to recognize him as these featured ultrarunner articles begin.
Ultrarunning was certainly in Brian’s destiny. At only 5 years old, he began playing any sport that involved running. The first of these was soccer. “He was always competitive and hardest on himself when he did not do well,” says his mom, Patti. In his freshman year of high school he broke his wrist when someone stepped on it. A few days later at his team’s football game, half time came and the cast came off! He was out there playing shortly thereafter. In the summers, Brian played for an international soccer team and eventually went on to play soccer for Wheeling Jesuit on a scholarship.
In 2004, after putting sports on the back burner and replacing it with school and work, a spark reignited in Brian when his mother announced that she would be training for the 2005 Phoenix Marathon. She invited the whole family to attend her big day, but Brian decided to go one step further. He wanted to run it too. Originally he was signed up for the half marathon and did little to train for the event. Last minute he decided that he wanted to run the entire marathon. On race morning, as the family waited for a well-trained Patti to run by, with Brian somewhere in the distance, suddenly Brian came blowing past them. He finished the marathon in 4:04:28, about 15 minutes ahead of his mom. It wasn’t long before marathons became a regular part of Brian’s life. In September 2006, he added triathlons to his athletic plate as well.
Brian has been ultrarunning now for a little less than a year, but in that time he has completed some of the toughest 50 mile races that Southern California has to offer, improving his finish times in each event. On July 19, Brian will take on his biggest challenge yet – the Vermont 100. He celebrates his 30th birthday today, May 1, 2008 and what better way to usher it in than another Saturday morning early wake up and exciting 50k – Wild Wild West!
Article by: Summer Wesson
Photograph by: Fausto Rowlan