For the rare few among us who enjoy putting ourselves through the rigorous training required to complete great physical feats, life can be lonely.
Long training runs, climbs and hikes are usually done solo. Taking on an ultramarathon puts the athlete in an isolated situation for hours at a time, which offers an additional challenge to the massive distance one must cover to complete it.
But as Greg Nance made his long near-double marathon run around the island Tuesday, he was met with supporters and cheers at various checkpoints. Over 150 people came out to see him as he ran the shoreline, holding up signs or offering words of encouragement. It was exactly the lift he needed to keep forging forward.
“It was a big surprise; I didn’t expect any of that,” Nance said.
“[During ultramarathons] you don’t see a soul; it’s very lonesome,” he added, “whereas this was very beautiful.”
Tuesday’s successful run meant a lot to Nance — it was a childhood dream of his to complete a lap around the island — and it was the first step toward the creation of his documentary about America’s addiction and mental health epidemic. His personal story of addiction troubles, which was covered in an article in last week’s Review, footage taken from the run and interviews with family and friends will be stitched together to create a proof of concept to pitch to Netflix. His ultimate goal is to take on a 3,000 mile run from New York to Seattle in the film as he meets people along the way and explores better ways to treat these widespread mental health issues and support people in need.
And he hopes the supportive response he received in his local community will be a harbinger of things to come.
“This is about way more than some guy running; it’s about our community coming together,” Nance said.
It took 13 hours, 7 minutes for Nance to run 46.75 miles. He began at 6 a.m. just after sunrise underneath the ferry dock and went clockwise around the island, finishing just after 7 p.m.
He wasn’t able to stay on the shoreline the entire way. Once he’d made it past Fay Beach and headed toward Rolling Bay, the tide was forcing him up against the boulder bulkheads and cliffs. Waves were crashing on him as he waded through hip-deep water and his teeth were chattering, and he was blue in the face from spending the day in the cold waters of Puget Sound.
Nance made the decision to head up to shore on Manitou Beach Road and continued on roads from there to bring the run to a close.
Speaking about his run the following day, he’s got sore shoulders and hips, and he tweaked his knee on a rock, but those small maladies paled in comparison to the incredible experience of seeing the island from a different point of the view — as well as the post-run meal from Casa Rojas Express and subsequent 10-hour sleep.
“It was amazing,” Nance said. “The ability to see the shoreline of Bainbridge Island from that vantage was spectacular. I loved that aspect.”
But he won’t be at rest long. Nance is already cooking up another challenge for when the rest of his documentary team arrives from New York and Seattle in September. That’s when they will continue work on the proof of concept. Nance has also received opportunities to work with Bainbridge Youth Services to speak to young people about his journey and struggles.
“That has really given me a lot of hope and optimism that things are shifting in a really wonderful direction,” Nance said.