Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


August 26, 2012

Shark bait? Let's take an easy route

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A retired marine, Jamie Summerlin from West Virginia, ran across the country this summer. According to an Associated Press story, it took him 100 days to run from Washington State — he started on March 26 — to the Atlantic Ocean. He averaged 34 miles a day.

Diana Nyad ended her attempt to swim across the Straits of Florida this week. She swam more than 41 hours before being pulled from the water due to the weather, jellyfish stings, sharks and hypothermia. It was her fourth attempt in almost 35 years. The 63 year old wanted to be the first swimmer to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.

If you are not road kill, you are shark bait. I am impressed.


As a runner, I am always fascinated by stories of people who run really far, like across the country. I have a dozen of questions to ask. One in particular is how do you get that much time off of work? Secondly, how much pain reliever and ice packs did you use during those 100 days? I would like to ask Nyad why she wanted to swim in shark-infested waters, not once but four times? It comes down to goals, dreams and heart-to-heart conversations late at night, when no one else is listening to our thoughts. We all have them. The brave look for thrilling challenges — to be the first, break the records and bring national attention to a cause or organization. The brave, but perhaps more cautious individuals, pick goals that don’t risk life or limb.

Straight out of college, I worked for a small newspaper in Virginia. One of my assignments during that first year was to interview a man who rode his bike cross-country. He started in California and ended his journey in Virginia, his home state. It was more than a physical goal; it was an emotional and spiritual journey as well. Perhaps that is the origin of motivations. Once the legs get tired, the heart keeps up the pace.

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