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Courtney Dauwalter: A role model for all

  • What's easy, finding a role model or being a role model for yourself?
Pankaj Sharma
Modified 06 Jan 2020, 23:32 IST

Annual Badwater Ultra Marathon Held In Death Valley
Annual Badwater Ultra Marathon Held In Death Valley's Extreme Heat

The idea of having a role model is complex or let’s say a double-edged sword. You may end up being better than them, or come under the pressure of at-least matching up to their performance. Even if you don’t pay attention to the external pressure factors, you may fall prey to your own conscience.

But with the help of this article, let’s try to focus on how a role model may do wonders for us and how I found the perfect one for me to emulate.

The Golden Girl

Courtney Dauwalter, the Ultra-runner. While the name may not ring a bell to people outside the running world, her achievements will definitely leave one awestruck. Her journey allows one to look beyond human limits and her achievements define the famous phrase - 'nothing is impossible'.

The 34-year-old from Golden, Colorado is a living example of how an undivided focus may help in achieving goals. As of October 2018, she has been the top female runner in 30 races out of 55 she has run and the top runner (defeating men and women) 10 times.

Run Rabbit Run

Her first 100 miles race, ‘Run Rabbit Run 100’ was in September 2012. She gave her best shot but had to drop out after the organisers found her lying unconsciousness on the trail. Anybody could lose hope there.

The effort required to run 100 miles and that too on hilly terrain is humongous. Probably a leaner version of Hercules doing it comes to mind, but not a skinny woman running in basketball shorts. 

Not long after the failed attempt, she completed her first 100 miles race (Superior Falls Trail Race) in September 2013 and went on to win the Run Rabbit Run 100 race in the female category a few years later in September 2016.

Running blind

After conquering the Run Rabbit Run 100 race, she decided to give it another go in 2017. However, destiny had different plans for her. She faced corneal oedema, caused by lack of sleep and dust particles on the trail. Courtney lost her vision temporarily when she was 12 miles away from the finish line.

She kept running and tripped many times on rocks and roots. One on such occasion, she fell badly and banged her head against a rock. Yet, she stood up and started running again. As if running blind on trails was not enough, she was now running with her head bleeding.


What was the end result, a magnificent and satisfying victory! Notably, the win came about despite all the hardships, making her achievement a lot more commendable. 

The effort was all about defeating fears. Defeating the mind. Defeating anything that tried to get bigger than the self spirit.

Defeat oneself, not the competition

'Tahoe 200' is an endurance race with elevation gains of 40,200 ft., and a course of 205 miles. Courtney had plans in her mind to complete the race in under 50 hours. The course record was of more than 58 hours, hence anything under that would have been a fantastic effort.

Since the beginning of the race and until 181 miles, she was way ahead of everyone and only a few miles ahead of the person (Kyle) at the second place. Kyle finally caught up with her after 181.5 miles. Tired but determined to win the race, she said to Kevin (her husband), “there is only one way to get there”. She continued her run, leaving her meal mid-way.

Towards the last leg of the race, Kyle surpassed her. Courtney came second and completed the race in 49 hours, 54 seconds and 36 milliseconds, to be precise. She may have lost the first place, but she defeated her goal of completing the race in under 50 hours.

Till the last drop of blood

Why she is a role model? The answer is simple, she did fail, but she got back up and clinched the win. The moral is that the only difference lies in the effort we put in the last mile, despite knowing that we may lose. The grit she displayed to finish the race in record time, even when her competitor was ahead of her shows her never-say-die attitude.

With less than 6 seconds to go for 50 hours timeline, she could have easily tipped over. However, she kept pushing till the end, making sure to achieve the goal she set. That is the biggest criteria that differentiate normal people from those who go on to become a role model.

Published 06 Jan 2020, 23:31 IST
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