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Lazarus Lake spends 4th of July walking in Iowa, ruminating on America

Barkley Marathons race director's jottings provide a thoughtful commentary on America


Yesterday, the 4th of July, was the 56th day of America’s best loved trail-ultra director Lazarus Lake’s walk across America. He covered 29 miles (46.4K) in the heart of Iowa, and has now travelled an incredible 1,463 miles (2,341K), entirely on foot.

Lake, whose real name is Gary Cantrell, is most famous as the race director for the Barkley Marathons, a notoriously difficult 100-miler that has stymied the efforts of many an ultrarunner (including Canadian Gary Robbins, who has made three attempts, and is the subject of the recent documentary, “Endless”).

Photo: Instagram

RELATED: #Lazcon update: Lake reaches Ohio on foot journey to Oregon

Lake has had this trip on his bucket list for some time. He attracts runners in every part of his journey, who jump at the chance to walk with him as he passes through. (Then they share their excitement on Instagram.)

Lake’s observations are often inspiring. (We haven’t read them all, but we haven’t noticed any references to the current president.)

Here is what Lake wrote about his day yesterday, in his characteristically poetic fashion: 

“i feel really good about today’s output.
i finally seem to be hitting that 2.5 mph stride…
knowing the route and eliminating all the map study boosted my results considerably.


“3 days now of smooth pavement has greatly improved the attitude of my feet.
realizing how many useless north/south miles i have covered
has done nothing for my attitude.”

He continues:

“nights on the great plains are inspiring.
at times we got in places with no lights visible
except lightning bugs and stars.
it felt like i was looking over the shoulders of the first men to explore this land.”

Though his accomplishment thus far is impressive, Lake is not even halfway to his destination at the end of route 20 in Oregon. His thoughts on the daunting goal he has set for himself are as inspiring as his ruminations about the country he loves:

“the concept of having to complete 119 days was beyond my ability to imagine.
somehow it has changed to having to complete 1 day…

119 times.

i can only face one at a time.

now i have that feeling that comes before a big game.
not nervous.
not tense.
not afraid.
just focused.
a feeling i have come to love.
a feeling that i live for.

i have done my work in preparation.
now i just want them to put the ball in play.

unknown challenges are waiting.
what would be the fun without them.
i am confident that i am ready.
that i can make the adjustments that need to be made
that i can make good decisions.
the whole season.
the whole year.
my whole life.
has been preparing for this moment.

the pressure of well wishes is gone
the noise of the crowd unheard.
nothing is there
but me
and my opponent…

that 3,400 mile white line.

will i win?
can i win?
i don’t know.

what would be the fun,
if success was guaranteed?”

And finally, a slightly more prosaic observation:

“my poor crews have made a valiant effort to add scouting out routes to keeping me fed, hydrated, and not lost.
with my phone now getting service about 10% of the time
that won’t be easy!”

You can read more of Laz’s ruminations, follow his progress and view his daily updates here