Logo for: National Kidney Registry

What it Took to Get to the Starting Line

Matt Cavanaugh

I’m about to leave for the first race in the Racing the Planet series—250 kilometers in Namibia. You can check in on how I’m doing during the race by clicking here from April 29 to May 7.

As I finish packing, I find myself pondering a quote, attributed to Lao Tzu: “The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.”

It’s not true.

I should know. By the end of this series, I will have run 1,000 kilometers. But there’s more to it than that.

When I get to the starting line, there will be that literal first step.

But it’s taken a lot more—a lot more—than that to make this journey even possible.

There was the initial idea, the pitch, and the support from the National Kidney Registry. Lining up a coach, gathering all the gear, planning the travel, and getting the OK from work to be away for weeks at a time.

Then there’s the training. I’ve had three-day stretches where I ran 71, 77, and 83 miles. For the five months leading up to the race, from December 2021 through April 2022, I ran 114 workouts spanning 188 hours that covered 1,352 miles.

Maybe it should be that the journey of 1,000 miles begins with walking 1,300 miles?

Ironically, almost all that training was in cold Colorado and the first race is in the world’s oldest desert. So I’ve been visiting the sauna every day for the past week to give my sweat glands a “workout.”

And I leave tomorrow. Ahead of me are four flights to get to Namibia, two international border crossings, and a pre-race Covid test.

All that preparation just to get to the start line. Or maybe all that preparation just to get to the finish line. I’ll let you know on the other side of May 7th.