David Goggins - Chula Vista, CA
[Transcripted from a speech given at the San Diego Tri Club meeting April 26, 2007, held at
Road Runner Sports.]
I'm nobody special. I've been in the military for about 13 years. I joined the military to
push my limits. When I first joined, I couldn't run down to the mailbox. I was into
powerlifting and weighed 280 pounds. I used to bench press 435. The guy at the recruiting
office looked at me like I didn't have a chance.
After 9/11 hit, I lost some buddies in the war. I wanted to do something for their kids. I
started looking for ways to raise money for them. Someone told me there was this ultramarathon
race in Death Valley called Badwater [a 135-mile race in 120-degree heat]. I didn't even know
what an ultramarathon was. I had never really run in my life. So, I called up the race director
of Badwater to find out if he'd let me in. He asked me how many 100-milers I had done. I said,
none. Then he asked how many marathons I had done. None, I said. He said I had to have at least
one ultramarathon under my belt before he could consider letting me in. This was November
. I had to qualify by January to run Badwater [in June 2006]. So, I started looking for
100 mile races in the area that I could do.
I found one in San Diego and entered it. It was a 24 hour race on a 1-mile course, and you
had to run 100 miles in under 24 hours. I told my wife about it and she looked at me like I was
crazy. ¿How are you going to do that?¿ she asked me. I didn¿t know, but I knew that I had to if
I wanted to get into Badwater.
So, I get into it and felt good for the first 50 miles. And I thought, what's the big deal?
60 miles, still good. Then after 61 miles I never felt so much pain in my life. I just hit a
wall. I didn't know anything about nutrition for this kind of race, so I was eating Ritz
crackers and Myoplex. It didn't work. At 70 miles my body starts to lock up. I was 12 hours
into the race. I walked another 7 miles. I only had 23 miles to go, but I just couldn't go any
further. But, I had to. I didn't want to have to do this again, and I was already so far into
it. Somehow, I ran to 90 miles and I felt like I was going to die. My feet were broken, I had
tendonitis and shin splints. But, I just kept going and got to 100, and then I did one more lap
just in case there was a miscount. I finished in 18 hours and 56 minutes and my wife took me
home. She had to carry me up the stairs to our home. I was peeing blood.
I had also signed up to do the first Las Vegas Marathon, which was 10 days later. But, after
8 days I could barely walk and I couldn't run. But, we go out there anyway. I had promised to
go with my wife and her mother. I figured I could at least walk it. But, then the gun went off,
and well, you know what happens when the gun goes off. Something happens inside. I finished
that one in 3:08.
So, I called the Badwater director again. And he said that he wasn't sure he could let me in
because he had so many people on the list with longer resumes. So I decided to do one more.
That was in December. I finished that one and called the Badwater director again. He let me
By the time Badwater came around I was in much better shape, but I still didn't really know
what I was doing. But, I just kept moving forward and ended up finishing 5th
overall. We raised quite a bit of money for the Special Operation Warrior Foundation.
After Badwater, I was looking for another event that I could do to raise more money. Around
that time, a friend of mine told me about Ultraman [6.2-mile ocean swim, 261 miles of cycling,
and a 52.4-mile run]. I called the race director and she asked me how many Ironmans I had done.
None. How many triathlons had I done? None. I hadn't done much swimming. I didn't even own a
bike. But, I bugged her and bugged her and bugged her. I told her I was doing it to raise money
for the kids. After a while, she let me in.
By this time, I had the running down pretty good, but it got down to 3 weeks before the race
and I still didn't have a bike. I borrowed one from a friend and asked him how many miles I
should start training. He asked how long the race was. I said, 260. He said, how long do you
have to train? I said, 3 weeks. He shook his head and said good luck. So, I started doing 300
miles a week on the bike and swam a few times. There was no tapering. You can't with that
But, then I get to the race and I finished the swim on day one in 12th. But, I
was terrified of the bike. I had a bad blowout toward the end of the ride. I'm not a mechanic,
so I lost 30 minutes dealing with that. But, I had a spare bike that I had rented from a local
shop, except it didn't have clipless pedals. It just had those straps that you put your regular
street shoes into. I finished that last part of the ride wearing my Brooks shoes on these flat
pedals. People were looking at me like, What are you doing? So, the Ultraman was my first and
only triathlon. And I finished 2nd.
With the Special Ops Warrior Foundation's help, we put 266 kids through college last year.
And that's what keeps me going. I'll be honest, I don't like running. I don't like biking. I
don¿t like swimming. I do it to raise money. But, now that I'm in this sport I want to see how
far I can push myself. What makes me tick is that pain you feel when you do these
ultramarathons. I love knowing that everyone¿s suffering because I know I can suffer just a
little bit more. I can take a lot of pain.
To learn more about Special Operations Warrior Foundation, or to make a donation for the
children of military Special Operations personnel who were killed on a mission or training
accident, please visit specialops.org