46 Days, 11 Hours, 20 Minutes - Page 3
The closer we got to North Carolina—my home state—the more support we received. Because I wasn’t running at all, a wide variety of people were able to hike with me on the trail: both of my brothers, two retirees, several previous thru-hikers, and a handful of trail runners. I even had the opportunity to hike with two of my trail heroes, Anne Lundblad and Matt Kirk. The fact that individuals who I believed to be superhuman were coming to the trail to hike with me was both humbling and encouraging.
Toward the end of the hike it felt as if I were straining for a goal that was much larger and more involved than I had ever imagined. I wasn’t just hiking for myself anymore. I was hiking for a community that believed in defying the odds, striving for your fullest potential, and helping one another. I was hiking to promote a path that has the power to positively change and impact lives. I was still hiking for Meredith – the young woman who lost her life on Blood Mountain, but in turn brought Gary Michael Hilton - the man accused of four backcountry murders in the southeast - to justice. And I was hiking because it had become of symbol of my husband’s sacrificial love for me.
Reaching the top of Springer Mountain, hand in hand with Brew, was one of the most amazing moments in my entire life. Even at the finish, after I set the new record of 46 Days, 11 Hours, 20 Minutes, the experience was not about the numbers. It was about the memories and friendships we built along the way.
Walking back down the mountain I stumbled down the trail, tripping on roots, stubbing my toes on rocks, and struggling to put one foot in front of the other. I was so tired that the path blurred in front of me.
I smiled. So this is what 100 percent feels like.