As I left Stevens Pass, I saw this old wisp of a man who looked so frail that a sneeze might shatter his body and a reasonable wind could carry him away. He wanted to talk, so I obliged learning that he hiked the PCT back in the 70s (awesome) and was the oldest man to finish the Boston Marathon. Except, two people tied him in 2015.
He had been out trail running for 6 hours because if he stayed home, he "would bloody eat!" He had my full attention by this point as he told me about how he needed to keep his weight off so he could qualify for the Boston Marathon in the upcoming Tri-Cities Marathon. You see, it pissed him off that these others tied his record and he wanted to increase it from 84 to 87 to "give the bastards something to chase!"
Grumpy Old Man inspired because despite his grumpiness, he still "grinded out miles" because he was "a slow ass." When I last saw him, he was in great position to finish the PCT before the snow.
The Old Coyotes inspired me because of how cheerfully they hiked the PCT despite also moving at a slow pace and also put themselves in position to "finish before the snow" when I last saw them.
This old man inspired me because he still brought to the table an edge that the others didn't have. Grumpy Old Man didn't understand that he was ahead of most PCT hikers by simply staying steady while others partied. In his mind, he was bringing up the rear. The Old Coyotes gave me one of my favorite encounters on the trail, but they didn't have the edge of this old man. Why they all inspire me is because they are still living and not just breathing. The oldest man to finish the Boston Marathon took it a step farther and was still competing.
I looked it up later and saw that he didn't finish the Boston Marathon, but nobody beat his record either. Whether or not he gets it, I will always remember the man who wanted to compete at an age when most people have long since died.
One of my favorite books has the quote, "You don't stop running when you get old, you get old when you stop running." These people were old in age only, but they haven't stopped living and I hope I can say that when I'm their age.
This picture doesn't have much to do with the story, but I like the picture.