Ras Vaughan is a self-described “backpacker turned into a back of the packer.”
You know how I’m still struggling to understand those ultra distance people?
Ras takes my lack of understanding to another level as someone who really enjoys 200 mile races.
Yes, 200 miles.
But more accurately, he especially enjoys non-standard distances and unsupported races.
Race Culture vs. Trail Culture
A lot of runners, including your truly, are at least somewhat focused on speed with faster always being better.
On the trails, however, there isn’t as much of a focus on speed as their is on the roads.
Ras is the trail culture personified, and is much less concerned with going fast as he is with being able to finishing the events he starts ON FOOT.
Only Known Time attempts, challenges that are large in magnitude and have never been attempted before, are the type of thing that really excites and inspires Ras.
Ras and his wife Kathy will be attempting to set a new Only Known Time on March 4th of this year.
They will be attempting to yo-yo (go out and back) the Grand Enchantment Trail which is a 730-mile hiking route that travels from Phoenix, AZ to Albuquerque, NM.
When I asked Ras how he feels at the start of an Only Known Time attempt, he said, “I try to put myself in the mindset that I’m going to be attempting the hardest thing I’ve done in my life.”
Overcoming the Obstacles Along the Way
Ras knows there will be problems and obstacles he will have to overcome in each of his expeditions.
He never expects any of his events to go exactly as planned. Ras said, “Your brain chemistry and your mood are affected by extreme endurance events.”
Having a rough patch isn’t just to be expected, it’s biological.
Ras uses a variety of mental tricks to overcome the dark times during a race or event.
One of his favorite tricks is to have a special treat that is only for those truly dark moments.
Chocolate is an obvious favorite, and Ras has also found wasabi flavored toasted seaweed to give him a bit of a burst at times.
And at the end of an adventure, Ras may allow himself a treat every 5 miles or so just to help him continue pressing on.
Another important trick Ras uses is to focus on simply taking one step at a time.
He said that when you are struggling, “focusing on just the next few steps instead of the entire overall goal” is key.
I’ll have to keep that in mind for my ultra in a few weeks.
A Budding Reality TV Star?
Ras is participating in a new show airing March 9th at 9pm on Fox.
It is called Kicking and Screaming and is a survival competition/reality TV show.
Ten expert survivalists, of which Ras will be one, and ten pampered people are thrown into the Fuji jungle together, and apparently chaos ensues.
Tune in to see what happens!
I could talk to Ras for days, and hopefully we won’t wait another 300 episodes before we reconnect again.
Not surprisingly, we weren’t able to cover everything that I wanted to talk to Ras about today.
But if you’ve been inspired by Ras and the epicness of his adventures, check out this blog post that he wrote about Ultraneering, the Mount Rainer Infinity Loop, and the Mount Adams Infinity Loop.
The pictures in these show notes are from those endeavors, and I’d planned to cover them but we simply ran out of time.
Further reason that I need to reconnect with Ras sooner instead of later to talk about these adventures, the GET yo-yo, and whatever else he will be working on soon.
Because like Ras says, “big crazy ideas inspire other big crazy ideas”, so there’s no telling what he will be attempting next!
And if you missed our first chat, you can check it out here.
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