Farhad Zarif is a man of exceptional spirit, who dares to accomplish the impossible, with a disregard for anything that tries to keep him from his accepted challenge. He’s lived his entire life facing challenges and climbing mountains that most would never dare. As a young man, he was an Olympian athlete, a veteran of two wars, and a prisoner of war, barely escaping with his life. He continues to face life head on today as an extreme marathoner who refuses to give up.

Zarif recently was given the honor of racing in the Ultra Race of Champions in Auburn, California on September 24, 2016. Very few people were invited to be a part of this grueling competition.  The trail wound through the mountains and desert for 100 kilometers, 62 miles, with elevations of 8,696 feet of gain and 7,940 feet of loss which put the best runners in the world to their ultimate test. Only Zarif had an even greater diffculty; a knee injury in April of 2016 had kept him from training for the 6 months leading up to the race.  This would be his first time to run since the injury. Of course, the pressure of the upcoming trial wore heavily as the race grew nearer.

As he considered his options, he remembered one of his favorite quotes, “Far better is it to DARE mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”  Theodore Roosevelt. He knew he had to go on.

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Thankfully, he had his strong relationship with God and a skilled team of support to help him along his journey; Lainey Logsdon, Jessica Logsdon, Craig Tyhurst and many more were there along the way to keep his spirit strong. Zarif says “I competed against the best of the world in one of toughest courses I have ever competed and give it all I had, physically, mentally and psychologically, with absolutely no training run since Prairie Spirit 100 on April 02,2016, only strength training. It goes to show you when you put 100% of your heart and soul and mind and believe in God, anything and everything is possible! I may not have won the battle, but I won the war!”

He finished the race. He conquered one of his greatest battles. But more than that, he is a testament to what the human soul can accomplish with focus and unrelenting drive.

Zarif finished the race 35th out of 95 ultra marathoners, after 17 hours and 28 minutes. He showed a courage and strength that we can all take heart from and use it to fuel our own journey over the mountains in our lives. Zarif currently is a kinesiologist and personal trainer and coach at Lifetime Fitness in Overland Park, Kansas. Follow Farhad at www.facebook.com/FarhadRunnerZarif.