Running has opened countless doors of adventure to me. Long before I took up competitive running, I spent hours each day running around the deserts of the Southwestern United States catching snakes and lizards with my little brother, Tommy Rivers Puzey. We didn’t have video game consoles or cable TV, but we had our feet and our bikes and we made the most of them.
We were introduced to the sport of distance running when our family moved from New Mexico to Oregon – the land of Steve Prefontaine. We grew up in a blue collar town like Pre and we did our best to outwork the competition.
Eventually, our efforts led us to collegiate competition – first in southeastern Idaho and later in Hawaii. We were fortunate to be teammates in high school and then again in college.
As we grew older we each set out on our own adventures traveling the world – usually on foot – and learning from the locals about their favorite places. I was fortunate to visit my brother while he was living in Costa Rica and we trained atop the highest summit of Mt. Chirripo for a few days.
A few years later we reconnected to continue our graduate work in Flagstaff, Arizona where we were able to run and train together a bit more. No matter where I was living or working or traveling, self-propelled transportation always made me the happiest and seemed the most convenient and affordable. It was the best way to learn my way around, and to maintain fitness, whether it was on foot or bicycle.
For nearly a decade, Tommy and I talked about doing a stage race together. Finally, in the summer of 2015 our schedules aligned to enable us to do the six day, 120 mile TransRockies Run through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. We were both fit and had aspirations of mixing it up with some of the top trail runners in the world. We went back and forth with the leaders for the first few days and eventually found ourselves in the lead going into the final stages. At that point the race was ours to lose.
About half way through stage five my brother and I got separated when he missed a turn and bombed down a mountain without any water. I went looking, but couldn’t find him. After a few chipped teeth, a bloody nose, and hours of searching, we were eventually reunited.
Despite serious fatigue and blood loss, my brother insisted on finishing. When we crossed the finish line we were both so tired, hungry, and dehydrated that we couldn’t eat or sleep.
Had we won the stage and been in the mix for the overall win the next day, we probably would have retired to bed early. However, realizing that no matter how hard we ran the following day we wouldn’t be able to make up the lost hours and regain the win, we decided to mingle in the common area for a while, and chat with some of the other runners and crew. It’s funny how things fall into place. Had I not been under that tent, I would not have received an invitation from the TransRockies Race director, about a month later, to head up to the Canadian Rockies to race in another series he directs.
And had I not accepted that invitation to race in the beautiful mountain town of Canmore, Alberta, I never would have had the opportunity to get to know my future wife, Amy. Amy is a Canmore native, and it was on my first visit to Canada that she took me running on some of her favorite trails.
I fell in love and moved to Canmore a month later.
And the rest is history.
Running has taken me all over the world. It has allowed me to see spectacular places that are only accessible on foot. More than anything, running has introduced me to remarkable people from all walks of life who inspire me daily to live without limits and chase adventure.
Jacob Puzey is a national champion, world record setting runner who helps athletes of all ages and abilities reach new heights through the coaching services he provides via Peak Run Performance.