Colorado journey racing pioneer Mark Macy fighting Alzheimer’s

LEADVILLE — Journey racing pioneer Mark Macy simply were given a brand new tattoo.

There on his forearm, in giant block letters: “IT’S ALL GOOD TRAINING.”

“He’s mentioned that one million occasions all over my existence,” says his son, Travis, one in every of Colorado’s maximum completed extremely athletes. “When he says it now, I inform him, ‘Neatly, Dad, I suppose we came upon what you’re coaching for.’”

Within the fall of 2018, Mark — everybody, together with his spouse, calls him “Mace” — and Travis began their maximum grueling race but, which says so much for the 2 athletes who’ve navigated masses of preposterous staying power checks. Identical to the primary mile of a 100-mile haul, the end line is blurry. Victory turns out elusive. However nonetheless, they grind out the miles, enduring Mace’s debilitating Alzheimer’s illness. 

“Is there extra chance in taking up a apparently not possible problem or in folding up the tent and going house, questioning eternally what would possibly had been?” writes tv manufacturer Mark Burnett within the creation of Travis and Mace’s new e book, “A Mile at a Time.” “In Mace’s tale — and that of his circle of relatives — I’ve discovered an inspiring reminder that with love, choice and teamwork, essentially the most ambitious demanding situations will also be conquer. Residing the existence you’re keen on is all the time well worth the chance.”


Mace has been an staying power racer since athletes began striking the phrase “extremely” in entrance of ridiculously lengthy races within the mid-Nineteen Eighties. As he raised a circle of relatives in Evergreen and excelled as an ordeal lawyer, he advanced global renown on the earth of journey racing, competing in all 8 of the influential Eco-Problem races from 1995 to 2002. 

His son, Travis, adopted in his wake, surroundings data as a certified journey racer over the last twenty years. After successful 120 extremely staying power occasions in 17 international locations, the daddy of 2 has transitioned to training, podcasting and writing, dwelling along with his circle of relatives in Salida. 

In 2019, now not even a 12 months after Mace was once identified with Alzheimer’s, Travis and Mace raced within the revival of Burnett’s Eco-Problem in Fiji. “The International’s Hardest Race,” they name it. The made-for-TV tournament — streamed in 10 episodes on Amazon High within the fall of 2020 — revived the dormant race collection that introduced Burnett’s profession, which contains presentations like “Survivor” and “The Apprentice.”

Salida resident Travis Macy has gained 120 extremely staying power occasions in 17 international locations. (Footage via Hugh Carey, The Colorado Solar)
Mark “Mace” Macy, of Evergreen, has competed in staying power races for the reason that Nineteen Eighties.

There isn’t a precedent for other folks with Alzheimer’s competing in multiday, multidiscipline races designed to make contestants endure in jungles, a physician informed Travis. The physician warned that infections and sleep deprivation may just boost up cognitive losses. Infections and a loss of sleep are near-unavoidable parts of the Eco-Problem contest. So there have been dangers from racing in a jungle, however “there was once additionally most likely a better chance of dropping by the wayside, staying house and calling all of it just right on a existence lived absolutely,” Travis writes in “A Mile at a Time,” which hits bookshelves this autumn.

The e book opens with Mace’s first access in a brand new magazine. He’d simply had affirmation from the ultimate of a number of docs that he certainly did have Alzheimer’s. The physician steered he get his affairs so as and perhaps take a holiday with Pam, his spouse and highschool sweetheart. 

“I informed him: THIS IS BULLSHIT,” he writes, or fairly, tells Pam, who logs his magazine entries as writing escapes him. “I’m probably the most fittest other folks round … and indisputably as are compatible and wholesome as any 56-year-old.”

A couple of traces later: “My spouse simply informed me I’m 64, now not 56. Perhaps it’s now not whole bullshit.”

He’s nonetheless journaling. He’s nonetheless speaking on Travis’ podcast. He’s giving talks and sharing his existence. He spent hours poring over the e book, whilst his eyesight failed him and his cognition ebbed, ensuring his tale will get informed neatly and is broadcast all over the place. 

Travis, 39, says his dad’s openness has spurred others to proportion their struggles. That’s the entire thought. Mace nonetheless has classes to proportion.

“He’s proven me it’s by no means too past due to lend a hand any person and make a distinction,” says Travis, sitting at the porch of his Salida house all through a contemporary rainstorm, an extraordinary second of stillness for the athlete as he rested for an upcoming pack burro race in Leadville. “When one thing giant occurs that’s in reality laborious, from time to time we will sink into the hardness. Or we will take into consideration how we will make adjustments and take no matter’s just right out of it. For me, that’s seeking to proportion and inform his tale.”

Mere months after his prognosis, Mace gave a chat on the Evergreen Rec Middle on Alzheimer’s. 

“Within the time since he was once identified, Dad had cycled via maximum, if now not all, of the vintage steps within the grieving procedure: denial, anger, melancholy, acceptance … neatly, he was once nonetheless running on acceptance,” Travis writes. “And I’m beautiful positive he skipped bargaining altogether. Now he was once able to proportion a few of what he had skilled.”

10 days, 417 miles

That sharing began with the Eco-Problem in 2019. The ten-day, 417-mile sufferfest driven 280 competition via mountains, rivers, swamps and oceans. They spent lengthy days paddling home made rafts, pushing mountain motorcycles via shin-deep dust and scaling sheer cliffs. 

Mark “Mace” Macy’s new tattoo repeats one in every of his favourite mantras. (Travis Macy, Particular to The Colorado Solar)

Travis and Mace enlisted Colorado journey racing legends Danelle Ballengee and Shane Sigle on their Crew Undergo. The record of required equipment ran 14 pages for tenting, operating, cycling, paddling and hiking. They educated for just about a 12 months. Ballengee, Sigle and Travis shouldered a problem better than their competition, too, racing along an icon in their game who wanted additional effort to stay on job and may just (and just about did) fall aside if driven too laborious.

The rope paintings challenged Mace in Fiji as “once-familiar equipment now appeared and felt like a tangle of random webbing,” Travis writes.

The episodes spotlight a few of Mace’s famously inspirational quips. Those that Travis has heard all his existence and nonetheless resonate deeply. 

“Do what you’re keen on.” “Triumph over the concern.” “Decide to it.” “Stay the religion.” “By no means hand over.” “Stay hammerin’.” “It’s all just right coaching.”

One night time, stumbling at the hours of darkness down muddy trails deep within the jungle in Fiji, Mace fell masses of occasions. He all the time were given again up, telling his teammates, “I’m now not quitting.” It was once a replicate to his better adventure.

Travis Macy and his dad, Mark Macy, joined Crew Undergo athletes Danelle Ballengee and Shane Sigle within the 2019 Eco-Problem journey race in Fiji. (Courtesy High Video)

“It was once a type of surreal, once-in-a-lifetime marches: not anything to do however transfer ahead, throughout the darkness, minute via minute, step-by-step, mile via mile,” Travis writes. 

Crew Undergo didn’t end the race. They sponsored off all through a specifically gnarly phase of river the place they suspected they have been marching right into a rescue situation. 

However Travis discovered luck within the DNF, an acronym for did-not-finish that haunts elite racers. He says he’s dealing with his dad’s Alzheimer’s prognosis a bit of higher after the Eco-Problem. 

Moving point of view

It took Travis a pair years so that you could learn his dad’s magazine entries. After months of remedy plans and techniques to struggle and win, he started to peer that the tried-and-true, head-down perseverance that had rewarded him and his dad for such a lot of years would possibly now not paintings in opposition to a illness for which there’s no remedy or treatment. He admits to moments of hopelessness. It’s an unusual feeling for an athlete who has driven via numerous moments of doubt. 

“That is powerlessness, via definition. Destiny is locked in. Will is incomprehensible. Which leaves, what? Depression, self-pity, preemptive grief? Is there in reality not anything greater than the lengthy, sluggish good-bye?” he writes. “How do you’re making it to the top of a dismal tunnel that doesn’t finish?”

That’s the place the identify of the e book is available in. “One Mile at a Time.”

“I noticed I had no selection however to hold in there,” he writes. “For me, and for Dad, to ‘stay going’ method to lace up your rattling footwear and do what you do. That suggests we run. We journey. We climb. We trek. We win. We struggle. We don’t hang on and look forward to a miracle. We paintings. We transfer.”

Staying power athletes “Mace,” at proper, and his son, Travis, jog in combination ultimate week. “Mace” competed in all 9 Eco-Problem races from 1995 to 2002 in addition to the 2019 revival of the race in Fiji. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Solar)

Closing 12 months, Travis and Mace ran the Leadville Race Collection’ Silver Rush, a 50-miler that traverses Higher Arkansas Valley mountains they each know neatly. Mace handed masses of racers at the uphill, conserving a swift tempo that outlined his profession. Visible struggles stored him sluggish at the downhills they usually overlooked the time cutoff on the 32-mile mark. They celebrated anyway, in spite of the DNF that a couple of years in the past would have marked a misstep. 

“To stay issues in point of view, he had simply run 32 miles at 10,000 toes in 9 and part hours at age 68 with Alzheimer’s,” Travis writes. “So yeah, I’d name {that a} beautiful just right day.”

Travis nonetheless marvels at his dad’s grit and skill to search out pleasure, enticing with family and friends and sharing jokes and light-hearted observations. 

“Hiya glance, I truthfully consider that I will be able to beat Alzheimer’s,” he says, chatting over espresso in Leadville because the day’s racers line as much as say hi to the legend. “I devour completely. I run two times an afternoon each day. I believe I will be able to beat it.”

Alzheimer’s stresses caregivers, limits freedoms, hinders easy duties. It stirs from time to time overwhelming nervousness concerning the long run and what’s to return. Mace is instructing Travis to place the ones stressors and worries apart each and every so frequently and simply center of attention at the second. Rejoice the now. Simply as they do when they’re plodding via some incomprehensible choice of mountain miles. 

“In the event you don’t have the previous and also you don’t have the longer term, all you have got is the prevailing and right here you might be,” Travis says. “That’s the reward of all this for me. Be provide and be with the folks you might be with and profit from it. Any person with dementia has no selection, however they are able to train us. Let’s do the most productive with what’s within the second.”

Mark (left) and Travis Macy compete as a part of Crew Undergo (together with Danelle Ballengee, Shane Sigle and Andrew Speers) all through the 2019 Eco-Problem journey race in Fiji in 2019. (Courtesy photograph, High Video)

The most efficient factor Travis may just do, he says, is write. The e book, he says, “is helping develop our workforce.”

“Other folks within the Alzheimer’s group … individuals who have handled it or are coping with it … they want a robust workforce,” he says. “And a just right workforce is necessary.”

Pioneering journey racer athletes Travis Macy, Mark “Mace” Macy and Marshall Ulrich — all from Colorado — competed within the 2019 Eco Problem in Fiji. (Courtesy photograph, High Video)

Whilst Mace is famend for his pioneering wins in journey racing, possibly he’s higher recognized for pacing masses of buddies of their races. Pacing is a quiet pillar of ultra-running, with hardy buddies shepherding athletes throughout the ultimate miles of an extremely racecourse when decision-making is blurred and it’s tough to stick centered. 

Mace all the time mentioned he likes pacing greater than racing. 

That matches for a person who donated a kidney in early 2018 to a stranger as a kind of karmic payback for his spouse, Pam, who has had 3 organ donors maintain her existence. 

The e book recounts a couple of tales from racers who credit score Mark with turning in them races they do not have completed with out him. 

“To me, that is the tale of Mace: selfless, worrying, and prepared to do anything else to lend a hand any person else succeed in a vital purpose that issues to them,” writes Travis, who is dependent upon his dad’s pacing legacy in his new position as pacer of their maximum daunting race. “As his thoughts falters, we will be able to be there to lead his steps and buoy his spirit so it helps to keep hovering.” 

This tale first gave the impression in The Outsider, the top class outside publication via Jason Blevins. >> Subscribe

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