Stretched to the extreme limits

Two LN teachers will test their endurance in an ultramarathon on March 15 called the Knobstone Knockout

Hannah Melick, Managing Editor

Finish. Survive. Be able to drive home. That’s the mindset of geography teacher and track and cross country coach Ben Morgan as he prepares to tackle an ultra challenge. On March 15, Morgan will be running in a 50k race with two other Lawrence Township staff.
“I think it sounds fun. I think it sounds painful though, now that it’s closer. It sounded really fun at first. Now it’s starting to sound pretty painful, but it should be good,” Morgan said.
The race will be held in the southern part of Indiana in Clark County, finishing up just about 15 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky. Called the Knobstone Knockout, it is the first event held there of its kind and is known as the longest trail in Indiana. As well as its long distance of 50 kilometers (31.96 miles), it features difficult paths of steep inclines, beaches and forest trails.
According to Morgan, he has competed in three or four other marathons before, but nothing to this intensity.
“It could get really ugly. One of the kids in my class said that he walked it and his legs gave out after five miles,” Morgan said.
Although Morgan has experience with running marathons in the past, it is hard to translate that into an ultramarathon of this size. With balancing teaching and coaching, Morgan finds time on the weekend to run longer distances to prepare.
Joining Morgan in running the race will be retired Fall Creek Valley teacher and coach Bruce Houston, as well as new geography teacher and wrestling coach James Aven.
“It’s a long time to suffer, so misery loves company. We all, I guess, are okay with trying to push it,” Morgan said.
When Morgan brought the idea of running to Aven, it started out as a joke between the two. But after Aven agreed, it became a reality.
“We talk a lot because our rooms are right next to each other, and we talk a lot about sports and stuff all the time. He was just like, probably as a joke and he knows I’m kind of crazy, so he was like, ‘Hey, do you wanna do it?’ and I was like, ‘Sure! Why not?’ And now it’s not as fun as we first thought,” Aven said.
Aven has little experience with running competitively but is excited for the experience nonetheless.
“I think the farthest I’ve ever ran was 18 [miles] with Morgan a couple of weeks ago, so I’ve never really gone that far… so I’m just excited to see if I can try to do this and to see how far I can really push myself going forward,” Aven said.
Aven acknowledges his inexperience but welcomes it as a learning experience.
“Obviously ignorance is truly bliss right now. It’s not going to feel good but I’m not as scared as some other people who might’ve done it and failed in the past,” Aven said.
Runner Nick Hamersly, senior, spends a lot of time with his coaches for the sport and values their time put in. As a runner, he understands the extremity of the long distance but is confident about Morgan’s efforts.
“It’s a lot. I don’t think I could ever do that. I don’t know, I guess I look at Morgan as kind of an old guy even though he’s not that old, but I think it’s just good that he can still have the determination to train for it and actually do it,” Hamersly said.
Running has been a big part of Morgan’s life since high school. Aside from his connection to running, being able to have the opportunity to push himself and test what he can accomplish is his goal.
“I just hope it goes well. It won’t mean much, I just think it’s a good chance to hang out with friends and try to do something really difficult,” Morgan said.