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Brandon Stapanowich's Blog (76)


The notion of completing the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, a footpath that runs mostly west and east across North Carolina, but also has a good bit of north and south travel, has been an ineradicable thought of mine for several years. At times, the thought of committing to the adventure has come with great certainty, only to later retreat into the nebulous category of Someday. But it never really goes away. Current circumstances have finally led me to revitalize this idea once again and announce…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on February 26, 2022 at 9:48pm — 1 Comment

The Barkley Marathons: Everything I Feared and More

In the worlds of academia and industry, students and professionals are asked to prove competence through rigorous exams. SAT's, ACT's, GRE's, LSATs, MCATs, and the list of acronyms goes on. One could argue that if such a thing as a mountain-ultra-trail running aptitude exam exists, then that test is the Barkley Marathons. If Barkley is the test, then the finishers, a mere 15 in the race's 32 year history, are members of…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on April 9, 2017 at 3:30pm — 1 Comment

Unpacking Lessons from the DuDe Part 3: The End!

     Finishing the recap of my 2016 journey on the Colorado Trail has taken a very long time. Much too long. This has largely come from a place of laziness or distraction, sometimes masquerading under the guise of "busyness." Still, there's also a sense of reluctant finality once the last punctuation has been committed. Fortunately, I wrote a lot of notes down immediately following the adventure, perhaps anticipating some of these inefficiencies.  …


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on March 28, 2017 at 9:59am — No Comments

Unpacking Lessons from the DuDe, Part 2: Miles on my Legs, Voices in my Head

   In part 1 of Unpacking The DuDe, I covered the more technical details about the gear and the systems that I used to travel as light as possible. In subsequent posts, I'll give insight into the decisions I made and offer a day to day run down of the trip. Surprisingly, recapping the journey has led to a larger than expected volume of details. Rather than packaging this into one cumbersome and unwieldy novel that you're unlikely to read, I'll break it down into two episodes which will…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on August 12, 2016 at 9:30am — No Comments

Unpacking Lessons from The DuDe. Part 1: The Pack, the Sleeping, and the Eating

     A week of binging on naps, Netflix, and ice cream have passed since tagging the Waterton Canyon terminus of the Colorado Trail. During this time of intense recovery and in between slumbers, I've summoned as many details of the experience as I can, realizing the limitations that come with attempting to encapsulate a 485 mile trip by tapping keys on a computer. Words, pictures, and video can do a lot but ultimately, they are only representations of the experience. Still, these…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on July 23, 2016 at 5:30pm — No Comments

Learning to Walk: Gearing up for a self supported trip from Durango to Denver on the Colorado Trail

     Human development is simply amazing. As infants, we're helpless, relying on the selfless love and kindness of others for survival. Our strength is hardly enough to resist gravity and our coordination is no better. We're dependent for all of our needs from being clothed for temperature regulation, cleaned for health and hygiene, and fed for nourishment. Each of these tasks are done for us, taken on by those who love us and brought us into the world. But soon enough, we develop more…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on June 30, 2016 at 8:30pm — No Comments

The Driver of Hinnies

     "HIYAAH! HUMDADDY! HEYOOOO! GIDDYUP!" These words, so unfamiliar yet somehow instinctual, emerged from somewhere deep within my soul as I belted them into the air above Clear Creek Valley. Bandit, the burro I had been introduced to just hours before, was hitting his stride as we left the town of Empire and headed back to Georgetown. Positioned just behind Bandit's right hip, I ran hard while twirling the end of the lead in my right hand. Grinning from ear to ear, I picked up speed as…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on May 31, 2016 at 4:07pm — 1 Comment

The Woods

     Like many, I suffer from childhood amnesia. I don't remember much about the first four years of my life or the first house I grew up in, but I do recall the second. It was a brand new traditional home, two stories, with off-white vinyl siding and faded blue shutters to match the front door. The house was at the end of a cul de sac in the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina, and our family was one of the first to move to the neighborhood. …


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on April 30, 2016 at 11:00pm — No Comments

Wandering and Wondering

     *You have to understand that I had to do it. That I had no choice. Of course it was risky, foolish even. I knew the stakes involved and that I could have been seriously injured or worse. But after laying on the couch for one too many days in a row, just staring at the door and waiting for something to happen, I was growing bored. In this boredom, I jumped on the anxiety bus and rode it all the way to maddening desperation. I couldn't take it anymore. Now, to this day, I'm not proud of…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on March 22, 2016 at 9:00pm — 2 Comments

The Brewers' Cup Movie

    Do you remember when your childhood t-ball team was sponsored by a local pizza place? They'd provide money for team uniforms and, in turn, you'd have the end-of-year party at their establishment. They'd support you. You'd support them. It was win-win and everybody loved it.

     Well, the Brewers' Cup is kind of like that, just with running and alcohol. After 2 months and 18 different events, this …


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on February 28, 2016 at 9:09pm — No Comments

Hit Pause

     2015 ended rather roughly in a "first world problem" sense. After spending some quality time with family in North Carolina and Virginia over the holidays, I found myself emotionally rejuvenated but also filled with nostalgia. Though sentimental, this of course wasn't the bad part. The bad part came during my return trip to Colorado.…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on January 20, 2016 at 8:00am — 6 Comments

This Is (Not Quite) Sparta!

     It's 7:00 in the morning and I'm standing at the footsteps of the Acropolis, tethered to another person, a friend, Jason Romero and we're surrounded by a crowd of 400 others. Jason is double fisting a couple bottles of Ensure and I'm tinkering with a GoPro camera with a dead battery. Reality is sinking in. We wonder aloud how we're going to run 153 miles from Athens to Sparta in under 36 hours. But the answer doesn't matter…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on November 8, 2015 at 6:30pm — No Comments

On Ambition

     I'm a a sucker for displays of ambition. For people who seek out and take on big challenges. With time, I've learned that the flavor of the particular challenge is irrelevant. It's the struggle, the hint of uncertainty, and the underlying quiet confidence, fueled by determination that matters. It's found on the faces of the starting line of the Pikes Peak Marathon. It's within a toddler taking his first staggering steps, falling frequently but unrelenting because he seeks mastery of the…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on August 24, 2015 at 9:30pm — No Comments

Gratitude and Pain: 2015 Hardrock 100 Race Report

     "That's one gnarly course, but the pierogies were delicious!" Those words were for Dale Garland, race director and greeter of every single Hardrock 100 finisher making the journey back to Silverton. Apparently, after kissing the painted slab of mining stone and effectively stopping my race time, I thought Dale needed to hear not only that his race called Hardrock was indeed "hard" but that the starchy sustenance was pleasing. Don't…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on July 19, 2015 at 9:16pm — No Comments


     We've all heard stories of athletes being "in the zone." It's that mystical place where things become effortless and you can do no wrong. You may have even experienced glimpses of this yourself. Time seemingly slows, your performance elevates inexplicably to a level of mastery that was previously inaccessible. It's in this state that you discover untapped potential, yet you're not sure how you got there or when it will fade. And like those elusive autostereograms, once you think too…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on July 8, 2015 at 4:30pm — No Comments

Sometimes Running

     Sometimes running is just running. It's a task to be checked off on the list of daily "have to's." Maybe it's chronicled and simplified into some combination of numbers on our log. Maybe it isn't.  It's a part of our routine. Nothing more, but certainly nothing less. Something as natural as breathing.

     Sometimes running is a struggle. It's the last thing we want to do. Something we don't have time for. Something we don't have energy for. Something we despise.…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on March 24, 2015 at 10:00pm — No Comments

Nolan's 14

     It's been over a week and I'm still trying to find a way to put the Nolan's 14 experience into words. What's easier to appreciate is the abundance of gratitude I have for the gobs of good fortune and kindness we encountered along the way. Over the past couple of days, deep fatigue has gradually given way to deeper satisfaction. And while I initially thought that 60 hours in the Sawatch would be a test of stubbornness,…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on September 9, 2014 at 8:00pm — No Comments

2014 UltraInclinathon: Means to an End of a Decade

     It seemed like a brilliant idea at times, but mostly, the thought of 24 hours on the Incline scared me. A lot. More than the Inclinathon, more than the Stank, and more than any race I've done. But once a notion like this tickles my brain, there's some deep rooted, personal obligation that requires me…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on July 12, 2014 at 8:55am — 2 Comments

Facilitating the Dreams of Others: Achilles International- Colorado Springs

     Goals and dreams are powerful things.  I remember growing up, one of my first athletic aspirations was being able to juggle a soccer ball, a lot. One thousand times specifically was the number that somehow bore it's way into my head. And so for many hours on many evenings after school, I stared and stabbed at the revolving Mitre. Finally on one otherwise mundane night, under the illumination of streetlight...998, 999, 1000! I had dreamed of doing this, well probably for only a couple of…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on May 13, 2014 at 6:44am — 6 Comments

Behind the Rocks 53+

     Last weekend, I journeyed west to race in the land of crimson canyons. A place where the rocky terrain is so cool and so hip, it goes by the name "slick." Moab and the Behind the Rocks Wilderness Area is home to a new 53+ mile race, brought to you by the folks at Grass Roots Events. I'd been to Moab only one other time and was excited to race in this incredible part of the country. While it can be a bit of a haul from the…


Added by Brandon Stapanowich on April 5, 2014 at 9:30pm — 1 Comment

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