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Western States Endurance Run

As several of our clients know, I was very fortunate to recently run the Western States Endurance Run, which covers 100 miles on the trails from Squaw Valley Olympic Village to Auburn, CA. This is the oldest and most storied ultramarathon in the country and perhaps the world. It was birthed out of a horse race in which Gordy Ainsleigh’s horse came up lame prior to the race and the brash California cowboy chose to just run it on foot sans horse.

I first learned of the race 10 years ago and have been trying to get into the race for about 6 years. This was the year that my name was selected and my chance to be a part of the history of the race. The selection happened in December so training and preparing started right after the holidays. Early morning alarms, running through the rain and mud, and four to five hour runs every weekend were the formula for what was required to run Western States well. June 28th I toed the line to start on a glorious day inspired to finish what started over 6 years ago. I had a nearly perfect day and finished in 27 hours and 39 minutes.

The first question I always get when people discover that I run these ridiculous distances over mountains. WHY? I think we are all driven to that question when we encounter something that we don’t understand. So here is the short version of my WHY. We live in great comfort and rarely encounter struggle. I believe that struggle makes us stronger and ready to face life’s challenges when things actually become difficult. Ultrarunning strips you down to what I see as the core elements of life…. breathing, eating, drinking and moving. And when you have 27 hours to do nothing but breathe, eat, drink and move you find yourself on a spiritual journey where colors become brighter, smiles mean more, relationships go deeper, and you cross the finish line a better version of you.

Thanks for allowing me to share a bit of my journey and I hope that you each find your own journey (you don’t have to run 100 miles) that forces you to lay aside distractions and actually see the vibrant colors of life and the beautiful relationships that are right in front of all of us.

michael h westbrooks

Written by Michael H. Westbrooks

After college at Loyola and the University of North Texas, Michael served 11 years as a Plano firefighter. He officially joined WDW in 1992. Michael and his wife, Loree, have three teenage daughters. Michael runs or bikes whenever possible, competing in several races every year.  Michael is heavily involved with the Dallas Life homeless ministry, having recently completed his term as board president.