What's Your More?
WHEN GOOD IS ONLY A STEPPING STONE
WHEN REACHING THE PEAK IS JUST ONE OF MANY
WHEN COMFORT ZONES ARE NO LONGER COMFORTABLE
WHEN THE HORIZON IS SIMPLY A NEW CHALLENGE
WHEN YOU ARE DRIVEN TO PUSH BEYOND
The Journey Is The Destination
Words By Solomon “Soli” Demeku
I thrive in altitude. It builds strength and character. It also reminds me of home. I will forever consider Ethiopia my home, my family is from there and it’s the place that I feel most comfortable.
The high-altitude trail run through Colorado was gorgeous. I am very familiar with high altitude running as I have trained at altitude in various locations such as Lake Tahoe, Big Bear, Mammoth Lakes and of course, Ethiopia. Loveland Pass was unlike any other altitude I had ever experienced. I usually train at 8000 feet; 9000 at most, but Loveland was different – 12,000 feet above sea level. I didn't actually realize how high up we were until after the run, however my mindset and familiarity with altitude training pushed me to stay focused throughout the run and maintain a steady pace. Even at the highest altitude, with super thin oxygen, you manage to find a sense of peace and gratification as you continue to climb toward the peak.
I believe that altitude builds the ultimate athlete, but my connection with the sport of running began long before Colorado. I vividly remember the first run I went on with my father in Vallejo, CA. We ran a few laps around my neighborhood before heading to school (I was in kindergarten). My dad would drop me off at the school’s daycare at 6:00 am so he could go to work; so, we would run at 4AM together. That was the beginning.
Drive, hard work and the pursuit of greatness has always been front and center in my family. My father was a political refugee who escaped a civil war in Ethiopia fighting for his beliefs. He always made sure I understood how privileged I was to live in this country and how he had overcome so many obstacles just to be here. He truly believed in the “American Dream”, and engraved that belief at the forefront of my mind. This was at the heart of why he always emphasized so much that I had to work hard to be successful. Nobody was going to outwork me.
This came full circle for me when my junior year of high school, I asked my dad to take me to Ethiopia to train. After having a great track season, he agreed. Once we arrived, I was quickly introduced to the Olympic coach in the area, Coach Mersha, and we began to train. No matter how rainy or cold it was or how terrible I felt, I still showed up and never missed a practice. I learned more about overcoming physical pain on this trip more than any other life experience to date. Pain is perspective and beyond that pain is glory. I learned how to embrace the inevitable pain that comes with training. This trip had a monumental impact on my growth as an athlete and as a person and prepared me for runs like what I did in Colorado.
In working with CamelBak I began to think about their ethos - Thirst For More. To me, Thirst For More is the literal definition of ambition. I am addicted to the concept of being the best and being even better than that. As an athlete, the thirst for more NEVER ends.
As I neared the peak at Loveland, in the glow of the setting sun, I couldn’t help reflecting for a moment - nature is our home, it is a space we all share. I feel a divine presence whenever I run, especially in nature. This was a full circle moment for me in my life and sparked a sense of urgency and motivation to pick up the pace in my career. Colorado will be a place I designate a lot of my training in the coming years and furthers my commitment to achieve my goal of being a 2028 Olympic athlete.