Monday, May 27, 2013

Running of the Dragon

by Matt Gray

It's hard to imagine that nearly two months have passed since the BLU 50M.  My life was organized around that race for the better part of five months. Much has evolved and transpired since March 16th, but so many of the lessons I learned that day have remained with me, and I've deepened on many of them through reading, discussions, life events, reflections, and of course running.

The lesson that maintains the strongest current in my running, that of community, resonated sharply and tragically in Daniel's post last weekend.  While his tribute to Lucas was about honoring and remembering a young man who left this earth far too soon, it was also about community. I was at lunch with my family in Idyllwild when the news about Lucas came down from the rocks. From that moment throughout the rest of the weekend, I saw the community in Idyllwild come together and share in their grief. It is that community that will enable Lucas' family and friends to negotiate this tragedy and adversity.

There is also a larger community of rock climbers, mountaineers, and outdoor enthusiasts who feel the sharp pains when an event like this happens. There's a knowing, understanding look shared between this community, an accepting of the bewildered truth that the mountains both give and take away. That community also strengthens the individual's resolve to head back out into the hills, to experience the next summit, to round the next bend in the trail.

I'm currently reading "Running with the Mind of Meditation," by Sakyong Mipham. This Tibetan Lama Marathoner also reflects on this sense of community as he unpacks the Shambala Warrior practice of the Dragon. When we reach the Dragon phase of our training, we strive towards egolessness . . . our writing, our rock climbing, our running become about more than just ourselves and our own satisfactions. The Dragon is a protector, a caretaker, a compassionate being, doing things not for its own gain, but in order to take care of its community.

It would be dishonest to say that every mile I run is for the care of my community. But as we continue this website to raise awareness and funds for Lymphedema, as we give kudos to those who helped us along the way back on March 16th, and as we remember an adventurous, kind-hearted young man, our running absolutely manifests into an act far different from a simple jog around the neighborhood lake.

The contemplation of the Dragon focuses on compassion and selflessness. My next race is the Golden Gate Diry 30 on June 1st, and I can ensure you that I will be meditating on the thankfulness I have for our community of readers, family, friends, donors, mountaineers, and runners. As I take off down the trail at dawn, I will be giving thanks for the preciousness of life and the gift brought to us by each day.  This run is about Juniper, Lucas, and all of you.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


May 17th, 2013, 3:02PM:

“Need to talk, where are you?”

I read this text message while a helicopter buzzes a few hundred feet above my head and Goose bumps run across my body.   Minutes later I hear the details and story of the events that took place a few hours earlier.
Idyllwild is a small town, and tragic events rip through it quickly.  Over the last few days there have been many conversations, thoughts and emotions surrounding what one person described as, “Not even a climbing accident, it was more like an act of God.”

I moved back to Idyllwild the same summer Lucas was learning to climb and began working at Nomad.  I’ve known his family for years, but my connection to him was through a desire for adventure, a passion for the outdoors and a love of the movement one experiences while climbing.

When I think about Lucas, I think about the values that he embodied: respect, passion, integrity, creativity, aspiration, inspiration and a sense of contribution to the community he is a part of.  Lucas understood and knew exactly who he was and what he stood for.

It’s only my opinion, and I might be right or wrong: he left his physical body in a place that he loved, in a place that brought him happiness, challenge and joy, and that his spirit is still there, moving over stone.

I encourage you to heed the words of John Muir, and make a pilgrimage to Tahquitz rock, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of autumn.”

Friday, May 3, 2013

Treatment Act Update

I know all of you who supported our efforts at the Beyond Limits race are probably a little curious about how things are moving forward with the treatment act.  Here's a little update from Heather Ferguson about how things are going, and what you can do to help out even more.  Heather is looking to create state teams to help further advocate for the Act, so if you are interested in helping out more, think about joining the team in your state!

I know we are all eager for the Act to be reintroduced. We have had a lot of great communication with Congressman Reichert and his staff in recent weeks, and rest assured that they are making good progress on the preparations. Keep in mind that between the 111th and 112th Congresses our bill was not reintroduced until July, and that was with keeping the same sponsor. It takes patience, but we are getting there!

In the mean time, it's exciting to see the progress that some of you are already making. Due to contact from constituents (Julie in Iowa and Barbara in Arizona), two new members of Congress (Braley and DelBene) have already reached out to Congressman Reichert's office regarding their interest in our bill!

Now is the time to get your Congressperson informed and ready to support our bill too! The template language on our website submission form was recently updated. Please send a letter today (click HERE), and if at all possible take a couple of extra minutes to add some personalized text, which really does make a difference.

We are also pleased to share with you our newly created State Team Handbook. (State Team members, please note that since you first received this on April 20th we have already made some revisions to enhance clarity.)

If you have been on the fence about joining your state team please take a look at this comprehensive resource that will give you all the guidance and tools you need to be a powerful advocate for the Act. To date we have teams in 37 states - an amazing accomplishment for having only undertaken this initiative a few months ago. But we are still a long way from our goal of having team members from each Congressional district in every state. You are the key to getting us there!

If you are interested in joining your state's team just reply to this newsletter or email us at And don't forget to contact your Representative so that he/she will be an early supporter of the Act when it is reintroduced. Click HERE to send your letter now.