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1st SFG Soldier completes grueling 100-mile ultra-marathon

When he reached the 85-mile marker his ‘feet were on fire’

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Ultra-marathon runners congregated at the starting line in Richland March 30 to begin a 100-mile journey through Badger Mountain's steep terrain of rock, mud covered trails and rolling hills.

The will to persevere and endure the trails of the Badger Mountain Challenge 100-mile ultra-marathon pushed Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Paige, a retention NCO assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Special Forces Group, through unchartered physical and mental limits during his first ultra-marathon.

"Everyone has their own way they go about trying to attain some sense of clarity, some sort of connection with a higher being," Paige said, regarding the method of reaching that clarity. "There is just something special about pushing your body to its physical and mental limits while at the same time being away from the hustle and bustle of modern day society as you tromp through the woods by yourself or with a good running friend."

In spite of strong winds, cold rain, exhaustion and poor visibility at night, Paige completed the run. He not only proved to himself he could complete the run but he also arrived at a new understanding of the human spirit.

After returning from Afghanistan in July 2010, Paige injured himself and was unable to work out on a consistent basis. A former colleague and friend, Maj. Jonathan Shark, assigned to 2nd Brigade, encouraged him to enter the marathon.

Sharing the experience, Shark ran the 100-mile ultra-marathon with Paige.

"He's got the heart, more than anybody I've ever seen," Shark said. "He's got this no quit attitude, and you can see it because he never quits and never surrenders."

Paige prepared for the race with a determination that proved it could be completed.

"My conditioning started about August of last year and I ran anywhere from eight to 12 hours a week," Paige said.

The mental challenges of the marathon included the rigors of running in the dark and the constant battle against sleep deprivation.

"A little after three in the morning my senses were not at 100 percent," Paige said. "I completely lost all sense of direction."

In that moment Paige deviated from the course, losing mileage along with precious time.

Despite the physical pain, the lost time and running excess miles, he refused to accept the agony of defeat.

"I was going to finish this race on my own two feet, even if I ended up coming in after the 32-hour time limit," he said. "By the time I reached the 85-mile marker, my feet were on fire and I was tempted to quit until I thought of my son." After reaching the final descent on Badger Mountain, he was greeted by smiling faces. Ryan and Alana, his 6 and 10-year-old children, ran the last 100 yards, crossing the finish line with their dad. He finished the marathon with a time of 31:36:17.

At the finish line, Paige's family was joined by other spectators who greeted him.

Steve Hall, a teacher from Whidbey Island, and father of Megan Hall, who placed fourth in the same ultra-marathon, asked to shake Paige's hand in appreciation of how well he overcame the temptation to quit and about the message he sent to his family.

Hall said he admired Paige because, "What he did is a testimony to the human spirit and what we can accomplish if you put your mind to it, so if it requires over-the-top physical conditioning to do the job, then that's what we'll do because we can't deny the human spirit of the American."

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