by Kasey Shultz
“On the Longest Hiking Trails, a Woman Finds Equal Footing“-The New York Times
When she came over the last rise,
She pressed her hands to the rock,
Marking a history of sweat,
Her lithe frame a story of endurance,
Topping all the efforts before her—
Emaciated forms of men collapsing at the summit,
Aspirations of glory dashed by this slight, badass,
Triumphant and tireless.
54 days, 7 hours, and 48 minutes.
But they couldn’t leave it be,
Trapped in the stereotypes that masquerade as science,
Claiming exceptionality, androgyny,
Forgetting that this is what our bodies were born to do,
Born to cling to fat, conserve calories,
Carry extra weight, think long-term,
Born to fight through the pain.
The others proceeded with fanfare and expectation,
Surrounded by supporters,
Carrying nothing but themselves.
But she put her head down,
Cut off from mail drops and human contact,
Unnoticed by ultrarunners and sycophants,
Letting it all fade into the distance,
Feet pounding out a steady rhythm,
Doing what she was born to do.