The Barkley Marathon is a backcountry ultrarunning competition consisting of 100+ miles of unmarked trails outside of Wartburg, Tennessee. The race is considered one of the most extreme events, with just 15 finishers since 1989. The course is a 20-mile loop and navigated in both directions, with a 60-hour time limit. The documentary, Where Dreams Go to Die provides a glimpse into the epic confluence of unsustainable endurance meshed with sleep deprivation. If you complete three laps, you have unofficially finished the ‘fun run,’ and that is considered a high honor in the running world.
What makes Barkley remarkable? The failure. Participants drop-out before completing the first loop. The course devours half the field before two laps. An event that embraces and celebrates defeat is considered the pinnacle of ultrarunning. The stories and legends strengthen the myth and mystery.
What experience would we offer if fans accepted failure in exchange for an extraordinary adventure? What can we learn from Barkley? Which failures have given depth to our stories?
Sometimes we have to encounter moments that remind us why we do what we do. Occasionally, we stumble across a memory, place, or event. Other times the moment is created. Return to the summer camp of your youth and recognize the campfire songs and traditions. Immediately, you reclaim a formative experience.
How often do we query why people lack engagement with us? Why do only a few maintain the energy and passion of their first involvement? Perhaps we realize that our interactions are limited to a few unremarkable places at set intervals. What if we put them back on the ski trail and encouraged them to make another joyous run? What if more of our engagements started with anticipation and excitement? What if we thought of ourselves as storytellers who customize remarkable moments?
How do we assign value to an individual’s effort? What is impressive to one person may be remarkable to another or have a profound impact on the recipient. Knowing who you are serving and why transforms the value.
We get lulled into patterns of thinking and acting. The is fast, that is slow. Open this door, not that. This person produces results, that person always hesitates before acting. We do this until our pattern is interrupted. If we are adventurous enough we put ourselves in unique environments then weak ideas influence our worldview.
We can interact with a different group of people, attend conferences that attract a different tribe, read from peripheral sources, or just try to get lost and search for a way back. Otherwise it takes the unexpected to jolt us awake. When our paradigm is flipped by the irrelevant becoming remarkable.
Everyday activities can be remarkable when you make them visible for others to see.
Is does not take too much to add a signature to an ordinary moment. A little creativity transformed tiramisu in Venice from delectable to I must take a photo before I start. I still remember the moment because it was remarkable on a variety of levels and easy to talk about with others.