CIRCLEVILLE, W.Va. – Sixty-seven brave participants signed up for the sixth annual West Virginia Trilog.
By Sunday afternoon, after three days and 94 miles of running through elevations of up to 8,000 feet in the tallest mountains of West Virginia, only 25 were left standing.
Two of those elites were Amy and Chris Compston, the running duo for Amy For Africa. They took aim on the biggest running challenge of their young lives and conquered it, finishing a half-marathon on Sunday in pain but delivering in under three hours.
This three-stage competition is not for everybody. Thirty-four runners didn’t make it past day one when runners put in the first 31 miles. On Saturday came the grueling 50-mile run but it’s not a run on pavement. It’s a trail run up mountains and through wooded areas with rocks serving as landmines and ankle-breakers. The unforgiving course itself took out several more runners.
And then comes a half marathon on the third day when the pain is settling into every part of the body.
“We don’t want just anybody,” said co-race coordinator Adam Cassedy. “Because not just anybody can do this.”
They limit the participants to 100 and Cassedy gave a special invitation to Amy and her husband Chris. He had trained Amy through a 50-mile ultra marathon in Nashville in 2013 via email. “I hadn’t met her in person until this weekend but I feel like I’ve known her forever. She’s a tremendous runner.”
Cassedy saw the warrior that others have seen in Compston — and not just Amy. Chris was a beast himself. He made it through the 94 miles of grueling running. His wife pushed him through the 50-mile run on Saturday and then he pushed her through the half marathon on Sunday as she was battling severe injuries.
Nobody was surprised to watch Chris and Amy cross the finish line holding hands. It was truly a team effort and a love story all wrapped into one.
“By God’s amazing grace we survived and even finished,” Amy said. “I fell at least 15 times. We experienced ups and downs emotionally and we experienced pain like no other. The West Virginia Trilogy kicked my butt … but it didn’t win!! It was humbling, grueling and great — all in one!”
Along the way, many were introduced to the Amy For Africa mission as questions came from everywhere on the trail. The AFA support crew of 32 — all wearing the mission’s logo and colors — was more than happy to share.
But watching this spirit-led couple do the hard work for three long days impressed everyone who came into contact with them.
“They are beasts, that’s all there is to it,” said Danielle Wesolowski, Amy’s sister-in-law who ran the half marathon on Sunday with Amy’s sister, Traci Vazquez. “I don’t know how they did it. They’re amazing.”
They will put up the running shoes for a few weeks (months?) and attempt to recover from the most difficult athletic event that either had ever experienced.
But the Amy For Africa mission goes on and donations are needed. Amy doesn’t have a Sunday speaking opening until December.