We were all saddened when we learned of the death of Heather Foggo last week. Heather was running in the United Kingdom’s Mighty Deerstalker Race, which is a 10-mile off-road race in Scotland. Foggo, a nurse, was seen struggling one mile into the course and collapsed. Medical assistance was on scene within three minutes, as per the Mighty Deerstalker and she later passed away.
Foggo was an experienced obstacle course and mud runner. She was a nurse and therefore knew the human body well and would have known if she was not able to race that day. By getting to the starting line and beginning her race, all have assumed that she felt fine until she showed signs of collapse.
Foggo’s untimely passing reminds us that we are all fragile, no matter what we think and feel. We all go out on these racecourses and attempt to complete insane things. World’s Toughest Mudder had multiple people complete over 100 miles in the Las Vegas desert. Spartan Ultra Beasts have been well over 35 miles, including some of the most insane changes of elevation. There are these types of races all over, and we attempt them. Sometimes we fail, most of the times we succeed and to overcome these events is borderline insane.
Before and after the events, are the hours upon hours of training, running, climbing and preparation that we all do. This all brings stress upon the body. Our participation in the events are the result of hundreds of hours of preparing our bodies and minds. When we stop and sit back and think about what we have accomplished, we are proud and we should be. What some of you do, and I am not including myself here, is truly remarkable.
I am going to remind you here, today to listen to your body. You are a fragile piece of machinery and there are so many things that can happen and go wrong inside of you. You, and only you, are the only person that controls that body. It is up to you to decide when the time is right and the time is wrong to get to that starting line and completing races.
A few years ago, I was in Killington on Mile 10. A friend of mine was sitting on the floor. She was resting, looking out at the majesty of the Vermont Mountains. When we talked for a few minutes, she told me that she made it this far and she knew she had some medical issues and had to stop. She knew that was her time to let the rest of the day go. She was listening to her body inside and felt that if she went on, irreparable damage may have taken place. She may have sat back and thought that it was the wrong decision at some point, but as I see her posting photos of her with her young child, I know it was the right decision to make.
I have talked about breaking ribs at a Rugged Maniac a few years ago and finishing the race. I was near the end, and I was still able to breathe. I am not a doctor and I do not have a degree, but I felt I was okay to finish and that I would have medical attention within minutes. I did as soon I crossed the finish line.
There is nothing like crossing a finish line, whether you are a newbie at an inflatable race or the most elite of elite at a championship. That finish line signifies all of the hard work that you put in to get you there. Make sure you get yourself checked periodically. Do you really know about that supplement or that new exercise? Do you know if that twinge in your knee is just from the changing air pressure or something much worse? Do you really know why you have been short of breath?
In this whole universe, there is only one of you. You are unique and you mean something to yourself, your family and your friends. Listen to yourself. Listen to your body and please make sure that you always come home from every race that you start, no matter how much you have sacrificed to get there.
Take a moment to take a breath because you are epic and as always, keep playing in the mud.