7 Stages of the Stadium: by Billy Hafferty

Some folks do crazy shit like run ultra distances and train their butts off for hours and hours and hours at a time, and understandably they have time to think about crazy shit they do at NP.  Billy Hafferty is a wise fellow, a kind and funny gentleman, and a baller buddy to have.  He’s also a philosopher with a psychologist’s knack for nailing down the experience of running a full tour, which we have to share with you on this, the most recent PR day in the stadium.  If you feel like he’s inside your head as you read, get in line…he’s nailed it for all of us.  But don’t get out of our heads, Billy.  Just keep this gold coming.  Ladies and gentlemen, read on for Billy Haff’s mash-up of the 7 circles of hell from Dante’s Inferno and the 5 stages of grief from Kübler-Ross… here is The 7 Stages of the Stadium

Sections 37-34


Is it just me or does the few sections of the stadium just disappear? You just finished the bounce, still surrounded by a bunch of screaming-hyped-up-people that you probably just met/hugged, and the adrenaline is still fresh and flowing.

Your thoughts: Today is the best day ever. This is going to be so great. ONE WAY TICKET TO PR City today baby!!

Sections 33-27


Here’s where you start to look up at section numbers and double check everything. The reality sets into your mind but you still have the last lingering bits of hype and adrenaline flowing thru your blood. You’re still cruising, though… blood pumping, maybe you still even have a smile on your face.

Your thoughts: “Didn’t I just do section 32? How on earth do my legs feel this heavy? Are there REALLY 37 sections to this stadium?… There can’t be… That’s just too many sections for one stadium. This is a joke.

Sections 26-19


You see the start of the turn. But ever section you complete just doesn’t seem to bring you any closer to it. It’s an optical illusion and joke is on you. Your heart rate is now sky high and you can’t seem to get enough oxygen in your lungs no matter how hard you breath. No matter how hard Emsauce, Payne, or Capoz urge you on with hype, you just want to strangle them.

Your thoughts: What the fuck am I doing? The stadium is so stupid. These steps suck so much ass and I am nowhere near finishing. Fuck all this. My legs hurt. Fuck all you people in front of me and fuck everyone behind me too… fuck all the people on injury deck, too. Fuck whoever put that ridiculous “THIS IS YOGA” sticker on section 19. This isn’t yoga. This sucks. Everything sucks and my legs hurt.

Sections 18-15


The pain in your legs is now normal and you’ve found a rhythm. Breathing still hurts but this is the new normal now. Maybe you look down at your watch to see how fast you did the first half. Maybe you are close to PR. This is where you decide if you are going for that PR chain or mailing it in for the day, because you’re close but you’ve still got to push it.

You say: Fuck I just have to make it to 12. Just round the corner that will feel good. Everything will be better once I get to 12. I am definitely taking next week off. Just finish this tour and take next week off… oh yeah, definitely getting a bagel on my way to work. That bagel will be epic.

Sections 14-10


You made it to 12. But everything still hurts. You start feel sorry for yourself so you slow down a bit. You’ve done this every time, I guarantee it. Every Time, except, that is, on those magical days you haven’t. You probably set PRs these days. You’ve got to decide what kind of day it’s going to be. “The choice is yours, and yours alone.”

If you decide to power thru these miserable sections and stop feeling sorry for yourself and all your self inflicted suffering these sections will make or break your PR.

But maybe it’s not your day. There is still time to push it but, you know by now if you are or aren’t going to get the PR chain today…. You’ve got to keep moving and pushing it either way. There are hundreds of other people around you – throwing down with you. They are all feeling the same way and they aren’t giving up… so you can’t either. You never know what they are thinking. Maybe someone else is using you as a butt-carrot (a glorious, magnificent, butt carrot at that). You can’t let them down. You are here for this moment. Onward! Upward!

Sections 9-4


If you decided to go for it in the above stage, here is where you start glancing down at your watch at the bottom and top of every section. Every. Single. Section.  “Am I going to make it? It’s going to be close! Gotta stay focused” Maybe you start doing mental math for the next 5 sections. You are still flirting with your PR and you’ve gotta keep powering thru. By now your hands are pushing your knees down just as much as you legs are lifting yourself up. But you can see the finish line and you start saying that new PR in your mind. It’s nice and juicey. The new numbers are infinitely better than the old numbers. Every second counts.

Sections 3,2,1


PR or no PR you’re done. You showed up and threw down. That gal in front of you raises her hand for a high five and you dole out a few of the sweatiest hugs you’ve hugged in at least a week. They are the best type of hug after all…

I hope you PR’d but, most importantly, you showed up and the tribe is faster because you did. You may know how exactly, and you may or may not have hit your goal. Every day can’t be yours, but on the days that aren’t, it is arguably even more of an achievement to keep pushing and keep showing up. If this shit was easy, everyone would be doing it.

I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you showed up.

Speaking of epic PRs, the newest stadium record was set today for the fastest full tour.  Arnout Schepers ran his 37 sections in 17:45, besting Tom Stark’s previous time by 3 seconds.  Damn, kids…We keep getting faster!

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