Despite my ninja-nomad lifestyle, I'm not one for intentionally running-for-shits-and-giggles. Being raised by working-class immigrants and being largely depraved of genuine, legit vacations in my early childhood, the vast majority of the races I run these days have some utilitarian function, whether it be bagging a qualifier or completing a race series, or because I have to burn off vacation days I don't want to, or to say I done did a race arguing with a burro for nearly ten hours because I needed a Tinder profile picture refresh.
I did not need to run Mogollon. I already had my totally-unnecessary Hardrock qualifier from Northburn (I had finished Angeles Crest in 2016, which itself was totally unnecessary because I finished Fat Dog in 2015), and Mogollon counts for shit-all at WSER. I only signed up because I joked to my friend Del last year at R2R2R that I should come back for a visit and make the ritual an annual event three years running, and Mogollon could be the excuse. Amazingly this wasn't the first time I half-jokingly suggested a race to someone we could all do, only to realize later they weren't fucking around (sorry again, Karen/Lourdes!)--so I didn't want to flake out yet again.
Appreciating suffering--it's not easy to do with intention. My motivation and hunger have previously been compromised at the start line of races where I lacked a raison d'etre, but I wanted Mogollon to be a more difficult study in casual lunacy. I wanted to mix in a sense of urgency into an unpredictable exercise with minimal tangible gain. I wanted to actually experience the Mogollon Rim's unique character not just with my eyes, but by jumping feet first into hell. I wanted to be able to laugh about it right at the finish line. I wanted to finish a race with no necessity, yet in a complete bliss that would have began by mile 75--and in the complete absence of regret.