What is a Wilderness Athlete?
Being an athlete is a constant display of what the human body is capable of. They spend countless hours perfecting their craft and morphing their bodies to become one of the elites. Athletes calculate the contents of what they put into their bodies; how they fuel their bodies. The dizzying numbers from time trials, scales, and distances become an obsession. They monitor themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally to ensure they are prepared to perform on the world’s stage. No one knows the athlete better, than the athlete himself. The athlete’s dedication and sacrifice are an artform to be admired and respected. Most athletes spend more money than they actually make to thrive, unless of course, you are one of the lucky few to be branded by a three-letter acronym.
But what is a wilderness athlete? We come in all shapes and sizes, but all have at least one thing in common: heart. We have a love and passion for the outdoors beyond measure. We don’t perform on a court, in a pool, or in a stadium. We pour our blood, sweat, and tears (and bank accounts) into our often brutal arena called mother nature. We are a display of far more than what is physical. We are a display of the human spirit. While our love for the mountains and harsh conditions could be considered selfish, many of us let our joints scream and muscles ache with more than just one’s self in mind. We focus on providing for others, surviving for others, and inspiring others. Being a wilderness athlete is not a hobby or sport, it is a way of life. We power through our injuries, remain relentless on and off season, and it’s a toss-up as to what’s tougher – our minds or our bodies. We are gritty.
The protective gear and pads of athletes are replaced by our equipment for survival and first aid. The colorful coordinated uniforms are replaced with tangled patterns of camouflage or layers upon layers of what’s needed to stay warm and dry. Their coaches, assistants, and aids are replaced by our personal packs loaded with essentials. The plays scribbled on white boards and notebooks are replaced by the knowledge we’ve studied in text, learned from peers and idols, and the tough lessons learned from making unforgiving mistakes in the outdoors.
Our seasons are replaced by year-round training, and there is no timer for what we are after. Sometimes our end goal turns in to a lifelong endeavor. We battle the odds and elements consumed with the thrill of the hunt or climb. The paycheck in our world is replaced by a successful harvest or summit.
I compete with myself to be better, faster, and stronger than I was before; to better intertwine my life with the world outside. I am a wilderness athlete.