Flight of the Bumble Bee

Welcome to the Wasatch Front 100, an ultramarathon with as many painful obstacles as miles to run. But if you’re lucky, you’ll bring along a support crew whose bizarre rituals will keep you buzzing.

  1. Greg is beginning to slur his words. “One foot innn front of the otherrr,” he mumbles. He’s taken to repeating my commands, as if the mere act of speaking the words aloud will help them register in his brain. He’s been running for more than 14 hours, and still he’s only halfway through the Wasatch Front 100. I’ve joined up with him at the Lamb’s Canyon aid station, 53 miles into the 100-mile race, just as darkness falls over Utah’s high peaks. A long night awaits us. As we leave our rendezvous point and make our way up the steep grade, I hand Greg a banana.

    “Oh, no, I can’t.”

    “Oh, yes you can,” I say. I peel the banana and hold it in front of his face. “This this is a banana. It is energy. It is power. Greg, my friend, you must be the banana.” Before he can say no, I press the banana to his mouth. “That’s good. Just take it one bite at a time.”

    Greg Hanscom is not my husband. He’s not my best friend or even my most regular running partner. Greg’s my suffer buddy, the guy who taught me that “seeing stars” isn’t a figure of speech but an actual phenomenon that can happen when you dig so deep that the taste of vomit creeps up your throat. We first met in 2004, at a local cross-country ski race. Greg introduced himself as we were lining up at the start, and we skied together for the first half of the race. When I noticed him starting to lag, I punched it and opened a gap. Even as my lungs began to burn, I held my pace. As we climbed a small rise to the finish, I heard Greg’...