In endurance sports, some athletes are born with natural talent, while others must dig deep within themselves to discover their potential. Casey Sanders falls into the latter category. Going from “last in gym class” to ultramarathoner, his story is inspiring because of his determination and self-discovery.
A Humbling Start: Casey’s First Entrance Into Running
Casey’s journey into the world of running began with a Ragnar Relay race. Having never been athletically inclined and a pack a day smoker, this modest endeavor with the Wasatch Back relay team was a significant step. It was a humbling experience, but it planted the seeds of curiosity. Casey’s foray into running continued with him participating in a 5k. This experience did little to foster his love for running, and he put his running shoes away for nearly a decade.
Fast forward to 2017, and Casey was overweight and struggling with his health. His interest in cycling took hold, and he invested in an entry-level road bike. This decision would prove transformative. He embraced cycling, even riding indoors on a trainer during the winter months. The physical and mental benefits of pushing himself on the bike became apparent as he shed nearly 90 pounds.
Pedaling Towards Transformation: Casey’s Cycling Journey
By spring, Casey was dedicated to his newfound passion for cycling and had little interest in running. Yet, a wild idea to run a marathon nagged at him. He didn’t take this goal seriously at first, but it refused to fade away. Running the marathon he had intended did not happen. To make amends for neglecting his running ambitions, Casey decided to register for a 50k race. He hadn’t trained extensively for running, but figured, “How hard could it be?”
The Arches Ultra 50k became his battleground in January 2018. Despite waking up with a fever and feeling unwell, Casey persevered. The race was a constant struggle, every step a challenge, but he finished in under 7 hours. This experience marked the turning point in his athletic journey, rekindling a passion for running.
Falling in Love with Running: A New Beginning
Casey describes falling in love with running, particularly the feeling of embarking on journeys powered solely by his legs and feet. The cycling adventures began to take a backseat as he embraced the simplicity and freedom of running. This newfound love for the sport led to a series of ultramarathons, a feat that could have never been imagined as he went from last in gym class to ultramarathoner.
Conquering the Unthinkable: Moab 240-Mile Endurance Run
One of the highlights of Casey’s journey is his two-time completion of the Moab 240-mile endurance run, an extraordinary feat that demonstrates his growth as an athlete. This race is a true test of endurance, mental strength, and love for the outdoors. While he has faced numerous DNFs (Did Not Finish) in his racing career, Casey views these moments as valuable lessons, reminding him of the resilience and tenacity required in running.
As for the Moab 240, Casey was captivated by a social media video showcasing the race’s 2017 edition. The sheer magnitude and challenge of the event piqued his interest, and without much research, he decided to take on the Triple Crown of 200s, a series of three 200-mile races.
Lessons Learned: Perseverance and Belief
Casey’s journey teaches us valuable lessons. He emphasizes the importance of believing in oneself and the need to overcome life’s obstacles to achieve one’s goals. We are reminded that it’s not just about the highs but also about persevering through the lows. These scenarios ultimately make the journey worthwhile.
Casey Sanders’ transformation from last in gym class to ultramarathoner is an example of the resilience of the human spirit. His story is an inspiration to anyone looking to explore the world on two feet and let their imagination run wild. In Casey’s case, the journey began by looking back at where he started, and it led him to incredible heights.