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Chapter 11
“I TOLD YOU!” Rick Fisher crowed.

He was right about something else, too: suddenly, everybody wanted a piece of the RunningPeople. Fisher promised that Team Tarahumara would be back next year, and that was the magicwand that transformed Leadville from a little-known gruelathon into a major media event. ESPNgrabbed broadcast rights; Wide World of Sports aired a Who-Are-These-Super-Jocks special;Molson beer signed on as a Leadville sponsor. Rockport Shoes even became official backers of theonly running team in the world that hated running shoes.

Reporters from The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Le Monde, Runner’s World, you name it,kept calling Ken with the same question:

“Can anyone beat these guys?”

“Yep,” Ken replied. “Annie can.”

Ann Trason. The thirty-three-year-old community-college science teacher from California. If yousaid you could spot her in a crowd, you were either her husband or a liar. Ann was sort of short,sort of slender, sort of schlumpy, sort of invisible behind her mousy-brown bangs—sort of whatyou’d expect, basically, in a community-college science teacher. Until someone fired a gun.

Watching Ann bolt at the start of a race was like watching a mild-mannered reporter yank off hisglasses and sling on a crimson cape. Her chin came up, her hands curled into fists, her hair flowedaround her face like a jet stream, the bangs blowing back to reveal glinting brown cougar eyes. Instreet clothes, Ann is a pinch over five feet; in running shorts, she reconfigures to Brazilian modelproportions, all lean legs and ballerina-straight back and sun-browned belly hard enough to break abat.

Ann had run track in high school, but got sick to death of “ham-stering” around and around anartificial oval, as she put it, so she gave it up in college to become a biochemist (which pretty muchmakes the case for how tedious track was, if periodic tables were more spellbinding). For years,she ran only to keep from going nuts: when her brain got fried from studying, or after she’dgraduated and started a demanding research job in San Francisco, Ann would blow out the stresswith a quick patter around Golden Gate Park.

“I love to run just to feel the wind in my hair,” she’d say. She could care less about races; she wasjust hooked on the joy of bustin’ out of prison. It wasn’t long before she began defusing job stressin advance by jogging the nine miles to the lab each morning. And once she realized that her legswere fresh again by punch-out time, she began running back home again as well. Oh, and what theheck; as long as she was racking up eighteen miles a day during the workweek, it was no big dealto unwind on a lazy Saturday with twenty at a pop …… or twenty-five …… or thirty …One Saturday, Ann got up early and ran twenty miles. She relaxed over breakfast, then headedback out for twenty more. She had some plumbing chores around the house, so after finishing runNo. 2, she hauled out her toolbox and got to work. By the end of the day, she was pretty pleasedwith herself; she’d run forty miles and taken care of a messy job on her own. So as a reward, shetreated herself to another fifteen miles.

Fifty-five miles in one day. Her friends had to wonder, and worry. Did Ann have an eatingdisorder? An exercise obsession? Was she fleeing some subconscious Freudian demon by literallyrunning away? “My friends would tell me I’m not addicted to crack, I’m addicted to endorphins,”

Trason would say, and her comeback didn’t much put their minds at ease: she liked to tell themthat running huge miles in the mountains was “very romantic.”

Gotcha. Grueling, grimy, muddy, bloody, lonely trail-running equals moonlight and champagne.

But yeah, Ann insisted, running was romantic; and no, of course her friends didn’t get it becausethey’d never broken through. For them, running was a miserable two miles motivated solely bysize 6 jeans: get on the scale, get depressed, get your headphones on, and get it over with. But youcan’t muscle through a five-hour run that way; you have to relax into it, like easing your body intoa hot bath, until it no longer resists the shock and begins to enjoy it.

Relax enough, and your body becomes so familiar with the cradle-rocking rhythm that you almostforget you’re moving. And once you break through to that soft, half-levitating flow, that’s whenthe moonlight and champagne show up: “You have to be in tune with your body, and know whenyou can push it and when to back off,” Ann would explain. You have to listen closely to the soundof your own breathing; be aware of how muc............
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