Jenn Shelton is an ultrarunning hero of mine. She is fierce, kills it, runs hard, runs for the love of it.
A recent article about her was really interesting and made me fall for her all over. She says bad-ass things like,
"When I'm out running in the mountains and I get that fear that a cougar is following me and I'm going to die, I think, 'It's OK if the cougar eats me because I've done some really cool things."
During last year's Javelina Jundred, I got caught two miles from the start/finish/aid station without my light. I figured I'd get back before it got dark. (It's always hard in ultras when it's super sunny and the middle of the afternoon or even early afternoon to be like, "Yes, I need to carry this bulky headlamp the next 15-20 miles because I'll need it for that last mile" or if you get slightly off schedule...)
I was running when I got to the tricky part. Shannon was in front of me, and Jenn had blasted out a loop or two, racing, before she dropped - and was now pacing Shannon. I passed, but hung close to them - Shannon and Jenn both had lights. Suddenly, Jenn spoke up. I had never talked to her, merely smiled as we passed each other during the race, said hi. She asked me if I had a light.
"Nope. Mine's back at my drop bag. This part took me a little longer. I got nauseas," I told her.
"Here," she said, running up to me, handing me her flashlight. "Use this. This part's tricky footing. Give it to me when you see me or if you don't, give it to Maria. She's a volunteer at the aid station."
I thanked her profusely, and took off, much more confident with a light of my own.
In the aid station, I proceeded to change my shoes and socks, suck down a coconut water, stuff as many homemade cookies in my body as possible. A random guy - that's ultras, random people just help you - offered to hold the flashlight up for me.
"This is a great flashlight," he told me while I rooted in my drop bag for my headlamp.
"It's not mine," I said as I finally found my headlamp and strapped it on. "It's Jenn Shelton's. She just lent it to me because I didn't have a light."
"Nice of her," he told me as I slathered Body Glide on. "This is a $100 flashlight."
And that's what I love about ultras. One of the fastest women ultrarunners drops the race - I'm not sure race - but doesn't quit. She paces her friend. Then she helps a fellow ultrarunner - someone she doesn't even know at all - and lends her an expensive flashlight.
When I finally passed Jenn and gave her the flashlight back, those thanks were from deep within.
And to all ultrarunners - I say thank you for rocking so hard.