By Kirk Brand Coburn, CEO and managing director of TEN Energy Labs
My runner came into the 50-mile aid station 14 pounds dehydrated. He had lost more than 10 percent of his body weight in the past 12 hours. The on-site doctor was concerned that he would not be able to rehydrate to complete the last half of the infamous Leadville Trail 100 ultra-marathon.
The runner, Jason Lippmann, still had another 50 miles of running to do over two major mountain passes— and I was supposed to be his pacer! Could he still run? If he continued, was I really prepared to pace my good friend, running mentor and fellow entrepreneur over the next 14 hours?
I met Jason a few years earlier when we joined EO at the same time. I was just coming off the sale of my first company and was trying to find purpose again. My first company was a huge success in many ways, but I wound up isolating my family, friends and business partners in the process. I accomplished a lifetime goal, but I felt empty, didn’t make enough money and was trying to discover myself.
Jason and the rest of my Forum were the catalyst that allowed me to face my greatest fears and faults. So when Jason asked me to help him train for the Leadville Trail 100, there was no question. I already had it planned that I was going to complete an ultra-run and an ultra-swim in my lifetime and this would help me meet one of those two goals.
While attending a strategic coaching program a few years ago, I was asked to set lifetime goals. I wound up creating a one-page strategic plan for my life. I felt embarrassed that I had never done this before, especially considering my company, Chief Outsiders, does this for companies every day. Under the physical section of the plan, I began to build an aerobic base of open-water swimming and distance running. Unfortunately, without a set goal, my workouts served no higher purpose.
I needed a mission to get me excited and raise my focus. I needed a team to get me to the next level. Jason’s invitation was the trigger. Without Jason and the support of the running team that he built, I would not have been able to reach the levels of fitness and commitment I needed to complete a 50-mile race, while keeping my family and business thriving.
Jason built a great team using two fundamental truths: First, he found people passionate about running that had the skills to be able to train at the levels required. Second, and just as important, Jason was able to take someone like me and lift my game to a level beyond what I believed was possible. Like many EO members, he is a leader determined to excel, but also willing to raise the game of his peers.
As far as Jason’s journey in the race, the doctor ended up allowing him to continue. As we left the Winfield Aid Station, still 50 miles from our final destination, I promised Jason’s wife that I would take care of him. I would get Jason to the finish line. Over the next 14 hours, Jason and I climbed two mountains, crossed a river, ran across amazing terrain and created a once-in-a-lifetime bond that could only be formed when two people accomplish a long-standing goal together.
In the end, the journey was worth every blister, every fall and every 2 a.m. wake-up call. I didn’t complete the race just for me; I did it to watch a fellow EOer accomplish a dream that many believed was impossible. When we were less than one mile to the finish line in downtown Leadville, I began to weep uncontrollably. We did it. We set a goal, we worked hard to prepare for it and we realized our dreams. And guess what, I’m running next year, too.