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Dusty’s taste for competition was insatiable; soon after he won both the junior nationals for Nordicskiing and the regional cross-country championship, he convinced Scott to Voyageur Trail Ultra 50- Mile Footrace. “Yeah, I conned him into it,” Dusty said. Scotthad never run half that distance but revered Dusty too much to say no.

In the middle of the race, Dusty’s shoe came off in the mud. Before he could get it back on, Scottwas gone. He tore through the woods to finish his first ultra in second place, beating Dusty bymore than five minutes. “What the heck is going on?” Dusty wondered. That night, his phone rangrelentlessly. “All the guys were making fun of me, going, ‘You loser! You got dropped by theJerker!’”

Scott was just as surprised. So all that misery was leading somewhere after all, he realized. All thehopelessness of nursing a mother who would never get better, all the frustration of chasingtaunting jerks he could never catch—it had quietly bloomed into an ability to push harder andharder as things looked worse and worse. Coach Vigil would have been touched; Scott asked fornothing from his endurance, and got more than he could have hoped for.

Strictly by accident, Scott stumbled upon the most advanced weapon in the ultrarunner’s arsenal:




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