Juneau has some epic athletes.
Individuals who train for things that you have to scratch your head at.
I mean, I wouldn’t want to run the equivalent of, roughly, four marathons at one time.
Nor would I want to stand toe-to-toe with a top mixed martial arts combat fighter for three minutes, and definitely not five rounds of three minutes.
That is what is happening today though.
As sure as you are reading this, local extreme runner Houston Laws is out there somewhere getting in some training time in preparation for running, ultimately, the distance of here to Hoonah.
And local MMA star Craig Reishus is preparing to battle for the first ever Southeast Alaska MMA Lightweight Championship belt.
Reishus and Fairbanks’ Eddie Hoch, both weighing in at close to 155-pounds, will be on the Centennial Hall for Alaska Beatdown’s epic fighting affair.
Yeah, there is $1,500 for the winner.
No way is that even close to enough... well maybe if it were all in one dollar bills and you could use them as bandages and gauze and things to stick up your nose to stop the carnage.
I have seen Hock throw a punch... and a kick. They hurt the viewer as much as the recipient.
“This is something I have always done,” Hoch said. “And not just to keep in shape. Fighting is a unique sport, there is nothing like it. If I wasn’t fighting in the ring I would be fighting some where. That is how I am. I just love it. You find something you love and you just do it.”
And I have seen Reishus wrap himself around many dudes that look like the “After” portion of the “Before and After” muscle building ads, and squeeze them into little girls (No disrespect to little girls).
Russ Stevens’ SE AK MMA Lightweight bout is worthy of ESPN status.
If you can sit through the battles of the first fights without getting squeamish then you will be in for a real treat.
Those first fights will include some classic wars between Al Valentine and Lawrence Fenumiai, Bayb Fanene and Timieka Sullen, Clifford White and Derek Lofstrom, and there will be some bouts featuring Joey Chaires and Jason Frost (Sitka), Mike Ward (Haines), Charlie Gallant and Tony Tompkins (Juneau)...
This is top notch... It can also be bloody, my jacket can attest to coagulation that flies toward the front row seating.
Meanwhile, Laws will risk his life in another fashion.
The White Mountains 100 is a 100-mile human powered race across the interior of Alaska... on March 24... in windy and snowy climates with temperatures plummeting and wolves looking for those little Goo packages and gels and nibbly bars that fill up extreme runners belts, pockets, and other accessible places.
The appeal is the steep climbs, bowel-clenching descents, sharp turns, active ice overflows, glare ice, tree stumps, roots, and sub-zero temps.
“I have been asked why I do this to myself,” Laws said. “Because I enjoy it. What I really accomplish through the course of doing all this is what I enjoy. Finishing the race is the small token of the reward. It is the challenge, hardship and physical demands I put on myself to get there. The discovery of my limitations and pushing past that. That is what I enjoy, the self growth.”
You have to love your sport to be at the level these men are.
And you have to be dedicated and passionate.
One man has found that passion as he pursues the epic exertion of pitting himself against the elements for nearly 35 hours; the other two find it in the exertion of maximum output to achieve forceful endings as quickly as possible.
“Competitiveness is fun and helps drive us towards new goals,” Laws reflected. “But the anxiety of always trying to be first or better then others is exhausting and leads to burn out, I just like to enjoy it for what it is, that pursuit of self growth.”
It also helps that someone is not trying to tear your head off for $1,500... or a pocket full of Goos.