Tapping Into Your Potential

Cole’s Wild Experience Running 346 Miles at TSP Solo

Since I entered into ultras in 2013, I had sought to reach my potential. I looked at the approach holistically, starting with perfecting the shorter distances: 50k to 100k. I raced many USATF events and had solid performances but still had a bitter taste in my mouth. I never thought I ran to my potential. It was when I ran beyond 100 miles starting in 2021 as I ran across my home state of New Jersey (197 miles in length), that I realized I had something special inside of me.

From there, I raced more ultras and continued to try to find this “missing link” in my own view of myself, as a high-level endurance runner. I ran Cocodona 250 in 2022 and was plagued by foot issues that still did not grant me the performance I knew I was truly capable of. But with each long ultra, I learned, I listened, and I took all the lessons from my past and looked to apply those learnings in my next event.

Enter The Speed Project (TSP), an unsanctioned running event starting from the Santa Monica Pier to the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. Traditionally a relay, this year 12 runners ran their own routes to Vegas solo. This meant each solo participant covered the entire distance on their own two feet, with a crew often following in a van or RV. I chose The Speed Project because it is one of the longest foot races in the United States, and wanted to push my limits and unlock my potential further. I chose the “OG” route, the original route that inspired TSP, but runners are allowed to deviate as they want with the undestanding that you are not allowed to run on freeways. TH OG course is 341 miles in length and traverses barren ghost towns, the Mojave desert, and Death Valley. At 4am the race started at the Santa Monica Pier, we were off. I settled into an aggressive pace for the first day trying to make up ground on the other 11 runners. No Solo runner had ever completed the OG route and I had aspirations of trying to finish as high up as I could while running 40-60 miles more than my fellow competitors. It was a massive undertaking but I was ready.

Photos courtesy of Kelsey Rogers & Ashlee Preewitt-Crosby

I drank my Untapped in liquid form, both Mapleaid and the actual Untapped Maple “gels” throughout each day of my 346-mile journey of TSP. Can maple syrup power a runner to run beyond 300 miles? The answer is yes! I hit 120 miles on day one, and continued to average 90 miles a day throughout my almost 4-day journey. The weather was hostile. From pounding rain, sand storms, intense sun, hot temperatures, mud, sand and dirt, car exhaust, sleep deprivation, sleet, snow, and strong winds; every element was thrown our way. With a true “OG” crew, we rose to the challenge and fought-off every obstacle that was thrown our way. From the RV getting stuck in a sand dune, to me navigating off course on trail in the middle of the night, we rallied.

In the home stretch, after a beautiful sunset in the sand dunes of Death Valley, we hit our hardest moment. A hill that never ended, on the map said it was 700 feet, but in actuality was more like 2,500 feet over the course of 10 grueling uphill miles. If that wasn’t enough it began to sleet and rain during the darkness and that almost broke us. Luckily my crew gave me a sip of Untapped Salted Citrus and back out I went to push this uphill. As dawn broke, our team felt stronger than ever. Today was going to be our day. We pushed through Death Valley to one last major climb to the high point of the course, up 5,600 feet. I hit the top of the climb as night fell and could see the lights of Las Vegas down below. What ensued was a relentless push downhill to the finish. I left everything out there. 346 miles, 92 hours and 57 minutes, touching the Las Vegas sign faster than the previous Solo record. History in the making, being the first Solo runner to complete this longer, “OG” route. I had run 100 miles more than I ever had. When in motion, I maintained running paces between 10-12 minutes a mile the whole time. I knew I had it in me.

Photos courtesy of Kelsey Rogers & Ashlee Preewitt-Crosby
This was tapping into my potential and unleashing it. It was there all along, but with the right team and all-natural fuel, my potential was unlocked. We all have it inside of ourselves. Search for it and once you find it, don’t ever let go. You never know what superpower lies within.

About Cole: Cole likes to go long, really long. Motivated by the extreme elements of ultramarathons, Cole has developed a passion for running really long distances like 200-plus miles long in races in all different types of environments. Hot, Cold, Desert, Snow, Cole is motivated to see what our limits truly are. As a multiple-time member of the US National Snowshoe Running Team and a force in the sport of Snowshoe running, Cole hopes to grow both the world of snowshoe, cold weather ultras, and multi-day racing all from his home here in Rhode Island.