Death. A bone jarring occurrence that can cause us to take stock in our lives, shake things up, and live for that day. Several of these came in close succession including some people our own age. The realization that you are starting to be susceptible to older age diseases was just another reason pushing us out the door while still physically fit enough to truly explore the landscapes of the world. To escape the beaten path. To climb, hike, run, and camp. Using the diversity of the lands to teach us about the diversity, but also the sameness of people around the world. Climbing sand dunes in the Namib desert, mountaineering and trekking across the Great Himalaya Trail through Nepal, trekking the coastline of Turkey or across the top of the island of Corsica, running around Mont Blanc through three countries, and camping amongst the Lesotho tribesman across the Drackensberg escarpment. These places taught us that despite the vastly different cultures of these places, some things were the same. That a smile, a laugh, and a thumbs up are cross cultural. That everyone hopes for a better life for their children. That people are overwhelmingly good. Not all, but most. Seeing sights and landmarks of the world, doing scattered veterinary relief work along the way, and being outdoors as much as possible. From death comes an incredible life.

Kathleen Egan and husband John Fiddler are true grass-roots adventurers who have recently returned home after 2.5 years abroad.

Of Nature and Self

My idea of a lucrative lifestyle is gathering as much outdoor experience and adventure as possible. I’ve never been one for the accumulation of “things”, and I don’t believe a person’s worth is measured by their materials.

This world offers amazing playgrounds that charge you nothing more than your will and desire to explore. When you are in the wild, you are free to experience whatever your heart desires. You are able to think what you want, listen to what you want, see what you want.

The exploration of nature is a gateway to the understanding and discovery of one’s self. Getting lost in the trees deep within the mountains is where I feel most vulnerable and most alive. I’m at the mercy of Mother Nature’s challenges, and it is here where I uncover my true mental and physical capabilities.

With every mountain, desert and forest explored, learn something new. Leave the trailhead feeling satisfied and bathed in the richness of life (this will resemble mud and sweat). Blend back with the societal “rat race, “ but stand out in happiness and fulfillment.

My hope is for more people to embrace the outdoors while learning about themselves and their potential. The value of recognizing your true self is priceless and the opportunities for exploration are endless.

Gina Lucrezi is a professional ultra-trail runner who recently completed her first 100-mile race at the 2015 Western States 100. Learn more about Gina at


Competition. A word, when spoken, that has the potential to bring forth polarizing thoughts. The origins of the word are rooted in Latin and stem from the phrases of “rivalry” and “strive for.” Whether it is the aim to strive on a focused effort, racing swiftly from point A to B, or an intrinsic desire to simply be a better version of one’s self on a given day, there is an element of completion that exists in humanity.

We supplant the word with terms like doing work, the hustle, max effort, the grind, making moves, and so forth. However we dress it up, the essence boils down to momentum—mass and velocity. When we dream of undertakings that seem impossible and decide to overcome mountains, real or imagined, we give life to it. We make plans, prepare ourselves, and gather equipment as needed. In doing so, we give the dream mass. However, without the added component of motivation, our internal compass has no direction of travel. By focusing this accumulated mass, and applying a bit of motivation, we gain velocity to propel us forward.

The 30th Marathon des Sables, a 156-mile footrace through the Saharan Desert region of Morocco, was an opportunity to be exposed to a multitude of intangible lessons learned in between the points of accomplishment: diligence to small tasks, persistence in the face of adversity, and the ability to learn and move beyond failures. In my childhood, competition used to relate to my personal performance with respect to others. It has grown far beyond that view to encompass others, myself, and the gifts of Mother Nature. Regardless of how we perform with respect to ourselves and each other, Mother Nature has always been the biggest facilitator of adversity in our paths. Through the struggle, we realize undiscovered weaknesses and levels of untapped strength in reserves.

Mosi D. Smith is a former Marine Captain who is also known as The Running Smith after finishing races such as the Boston Marathon, Virginia Triple Ironman, Western States 100, Badwater Ultramarathon and the Marathon des Sables. For more Mosi, check out