My Long Lost Younger Brother

Eric SteeleA little over two years ago in late September of 2011, at the 17th Annual FlatRock 50K, I met a kid named Zach Adams.  I call him a kid because even though, yes, he is my junior by about 12 years, more so because he had this mischievous grin on his face and pure state of childish amusement in his eyes as he came across the finish line and hung out chatting with me for a while after the race.

Zach was definitely fired up about his experience at “The Rock” and the energy he was conveying was palpable.  People have told me for years how I can get them really “wound up” just by being around me and listening to me talk…and now I felt what is was like to be on the receiving end while listening to Zach verbally “rapid fire” me with his quick wit and salty humor.

In June of 2012, while running the War Eagle 50K in Arkansas, I came up behind someone who kind of looked familiar, as I got closer I saw it was Zach and he immediately turned around to greet me by name and ask how I was doing.  We chatted for a few minutes then I scurried on down the trail and saw Zach later at the finish line for a few minutes before seeing him again in several months at the 18th Annual FlatRock 50K in late September.

A couple months later Zach e-mailed me to tell me he was going to be in Wichita, early in the year, attending a job-related conference and asked if I wanted to meet him for a beer, or two, in the evening, which I gladly agreed to and thus began a close friendship.  Zach asked if I was planning on starting a blog on my website for my recently formed company, Epic Ultras, and after telling him it was on the “to do” list he immediately said he’d like to take a crack at it, if at all possible.  I gladly agreed, and as many of you are now aware of, Zach Adams is quite a talented writer and our ONLY “in-house” Epic Ultras Blogger.  In addition, Zach has been a huge assistance helping me proliferate the Epic Ultras mission through his understanding of modern day marketing methodologies and acting as my personal “sounding board” when I’ve got a gazillion different ideas I want to pursue developing EU, but still must decide the next MOST important one, or two to get done.

Over the course of the next couple months Zach was eagerly preparing for his second attempt at finishing a 100 Miler.  After running into problems at Pumpkin Holler 100 late in 2012, Zach was now training for the Epic Ultras, “now legendary” Inaugural Prairie Spirit Trail 100 that we held near the end of March.  Zach made it 75 miles that day in blizzard conditions, but like so many others, fell short due to mother nature delivering us one of the nastiest late March blizzards of the century.  My heart sincerely went out to him and all of the other runners who had trained “so hard” in preparation for their first 100 mile finish, but were stopped short of their goal.  Conditions got so bad, I was forced by the Park Rangers to “pull the plug” on the event a little shy of 24 hours.

In spite of coming up apparently “empty-handed” Zach was still all too eager to write an outstanding 3-part blog about his experience at Prairie Spirit and you can read all three parts here.  Since that time, we continued to discuss what his next 100 mile attempt would be and he was pretty set that he would have to come back to the Prairie Spirit Trail 100 in 2014 to avenge his DNF, though he also kept mumbling shit to me about unfinished business at his first 100 mile DNF at Pumpkin Holler 100…go figure!

FR101K (361)In late April, Zach was one of 37 very tough individuals that finished our Inaugural FlatRock 101K on a really muddy, sloppy trail.  In spite of horrendous trail conditions, Zach finished with a smile on his face in excellent spirits and then headed to Colorado the very next weekend to pace for a group of marathoners.  Wow…I knew Zach had the “right stuff” for sure!!!

Over the course of the summer, Zach and I competed in a couple 50K’s together, the War Eagle 50K in Rogers, Arkansas and the Psycho Psummer 50K at Wyandotte County Lake Park, Kansas.  Both times I schooled the kid and gave him a hard time about a grandpa, like me, being able to kick his ass and when was he going to stop slacking and get serious about “our beloved” sport.  I mean sure, I certainly have much more collective experience than he does, however, I reminded him of his already demonstrated mental & physical toughness, that and the fact he was 12 years younger than me and in his ultrarunning prime, so it was time to “kick it up a notch” and see what he “really” had.

Well, few words can do Zach’s colossal improvement over just the past few months any justice.  From his 2nd place finish at the Patriot’s Run in early September, to his gutsy 6th place finish on another very sloppy day at the FlatRock 50K at the end of September…and NOW his “MOST EPIC” 2nd place finish of his first 100 Mile completion in 21:50:25 at the Pumpkin Holler 100 earlier this morning, Zach Adams is riding a rocket ship, on his way to Mars, and is quite simply defying the laws of gravity.

zachgirlsZach was under exceptional care at Pumpkin Holler from the Epic Ultra Chicks, Candi Paulin, Melissa Bruce and Joell Chockley, who not only are ALL talented ultrarunners themselves, but did an outstanding job crewing and pacing Zach to his EPIC finish earlier this morning.

zach&eAt FlatRock, a few weeks ago, I was honored when Zach referred to me as his “long lost” older brother.  After spending numerous hours training with Zach, one of our other running friends & ultralegend’s in the making, Adam Monaghan, asked Zach if we were ACTUALLY related because of how “totally wound up” both of us are and how similar our unbridled passion for our “beloved sport” is.  And though technically Zach and I are not related, I am a VERY PROUD older brother today and will claim Zach as my long lost younger brother anytime…hell, as previously mentioned, I am deeply honored and touched that he initially claimed me as kin!

zachfinishSo, hats off to my younger brother and MASSIVE congratulations to a guy, who like me, was once one of the geeks, freaks & misfits of days long gone.  Welcome to the “big-boys” 100 Mile Table, where you have permanently earned your seat as an Epic Ultrarunning Legend, Zach Adams!

STAY EPIC BROTHER…I KNOW YOU WILL!!!

Eric Steele, RD
Epic Ultras Founder

2 Responses to “My Long Lost Younger Brother”

  1. Dave Meeth

    I have been jet-lagged and sick for the last week and have just 6 more days until my first 50-miler (Prairie Spirit)… I was beginning to wonder what my chances would be to even finish, and then I read this.
    You guys, and all of you at Epic Ultras, have super powers and have quite the knack of infecting others with your attitude and desire. Thanks for that, and much respect & congratulations to Zach on his monster performance at Pumpkin Holler!! Prost.

  2. Dave Renfro

    Nice one, Eric. Yeah, I met Zach at the 101k where we ran together for 24 miles or so before he dropped me. Somehow I knew he wasn’t revealing the full scale of his badassness that day, inexplicably only finishing a few hours faster than me. He opened a can at Pumpkin Holler, though! He’s a good man, that Zach.

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