running_to_winAt mile 238, in her third day of continuously pounding the pavement, Pam Reed guzzled Ensure as she closed in on her goal of 300 non-stop miles.

The 44-year-old mother of three is one of the few premier athletes to compete in the brutal world of ultra running. For 15 years, the skinny blonde has pushed herself beyond the point of pain into a grueling realm of endurance most humans can hardly imagine. As of October 2005, Reed has run more than 40 races with mile counts over 100 and more than 100 marathons.

Reed often competes in international races, and has twice won the Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile race that propels runners from the lows of Death Valley to an end-spot halfway up Mount Whitney, battling other runners and their own mortal limits for more than 28 hours in temperatures that spike at over 125 degrees.

And there’s no end in sight for Pam Reed. After beating her goal of running 300 miles without stop (she ran for 302), she’s challenged competitor and ultramarathon poster runner, Dean Karnazes, to be the first to finish 500 uninterrupted miles.

Ultrarunning holds more than personal satisfaction for Reed and her archrival Karnazes. Outsidemagazine featured the dueling duo in October 2005 and describes their opposition as a “wholly unapologetic pursuit of fame.” Karnazes has become the endurance sport’s first celebrity with his bronzed good looks and powerfully muscled frame. Reed wants her share of the media coverage, and both runners have created and participated in attention-getting schemes, including Karnazes’ idea to run the marathon course of Greek messenger Pheidippides—wearing full armor.

Wisdom and Fame

For all their labors, Reed and Karnazes may never be household names or millionaires. Ecclesiastes 9:11 recognizes, “… the fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise are often poor, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy.”

Those who deserve accolades and rewards do not always receive them, just as those who seek fortune are not promised riches or recognition. Christians, however, are assured the ultimate reward for our labors—a forever life in heaven with our Saviour.

In 1 Corinthians 9:24, Paul likens the Christian experience to a race. “In a race, everyone runs but only one person gets first prize. Run your race to win… An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears.”

Like Paul, we can run toward the finish line “with purpose in every step” (1 Corinthians 9:26). Running to win isn’t only a goal for professional athletes or track enthusiasts. In everything we do, keeping our eye on the prize is an objective worth aiming for.