Patrick Dean grew up in Mississippi and lives, works, and plays in and around Monteagle, Tennessee with his wife and dogs. He is the executive director of the Mountain Goat Trail Alliance, a rail-trail nonprofit. The 23-mile Perimeter Trail at the University of the South in nearby Sewanee feeds his soul on a regular basis. Afterwards, the Herbivore pizza from Mountain Goat Market feeds his belly. Patrick runs to be outside, to feel awe and gratitude, and to feel human.
There's a race near my home on the Cumberland Plateau: the Savage Gulf Marathon. Four thousand feet of elevation gain in 26.2 miles, almost all of it rocky, rooty, and steep. Only this year did the winner break the four-hour mark. The first time I entered, in 2017, I finished in 7:30 with full lower-body cramping. In 2019, I tried again -- and bashed my head on an overhanging rock ledge. Sitting at an aid station being patched up, I totally cooled down; and, when I tried to resume, I totally cramped up again. DNF after 22 miles. Yet I am so glad for these two races. They taught me so much about pain, perseverance, and the joy of being out there. Will I try again? Maybe!
Patrick's writing can be found at patrickdean.co