The Ultra-Endurance Bond of Empathy

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The ultra-endurance athletic community is small and distributed, yet deeply connected and intimate beneath the surface.

Yet I don’t believe these deep connections are developed primarily through physical interactions with other ultra-endurance athletes because for many, including me, these are minimal. So perhaps, then, it is through empathy that we all relate.

Isn’t it our set of shared experiences, hard work, training, sacrifice, suffering, humility, understanding, purpose, passion, and mission that truly binds us together at the core?

If you’ve ever been road bicycling before – or running or motorcycling – you’ll be familiar with the polite gestures us bicyclists give to one another in passing - a lift of a finger, a slight wave of the hand, or just a nod acknowledging the shared mission. Almost as if we are saying to one another: I know it’s tough, but you’ve got this. Keep up the good work. Stay focused on the mission! Let’s do this!

What else can cause diverging roads to lead to converging missions? I think at the crossroads of distributed, decentralized, and unified effort is the ultra-endurance bond of empathy.

Justin Too bicycling through Monument Valley