I have often struggled to describe what a strange event the Umstead 100 is.
But Iris has nailed it. See her post here: Umstead: A 100-Mile Heroic Journey to the Underworld
For one weekend a year, this bizarre "Underworld" secretly opens up in our otherwise unremarkable suburban state park. Top athletes from around the country and nearby descend into this dark nether place, performing feats of endurance and strength beyond the comprehension of casual observers.
While it exists in plain sight, the locals are unaware of it's existence. Even regular park users barely notice it's there. There are no huge cheering crowds, TV crews, or even mention of it in the newspaper.
During the race I was riding my bike through the park, and rode past a guy talking on his cell phone about watching basketball. Basketball? I wanted to shake him, "Do you see what is happening around you? Do you know what these people running through the park are doing?"
But I knew he wouldn't understand. The journey these 100 milers were taking was not happening in the world he lived in.
A few of us though, volunteers, friends and family, had the privilege to glimpse into this underworld, and cannot help but be moved by it. Some of us will be inspired to attempt the journey ourselves. Others, like myself, are content to be observers, peering over the edge.