Debbie Fetterman writes
about running for The Dallas Morning News
Last fall, longtime Dallas-area runner
Patrick Johns became the first person to
complete the Himalayan 100-mile Stage Race four
times. For Johns, 51, the story isn't about his
His background is in behavioral science.
Johns, who said he is a sales manager,
motivational speaker and journalist, began
wondering why he and the others subjected
themselves to the torturous conditions
associated with this five-stage race held near
the border between India and Nepal. The grueling
race features views of four of the world's five
highest peaks – including Mount Everest.
"The answer was that by pushing the ends of
the spectrum, you increase your ability to cope,
and that's a good thing," said Johns, the father
of 17-year-old twins.
Johns initially registered for the 2000
Himalayan 100 with a friend because it was a new
challenge in his running adventures. He had
finished about 30 marathons at the time – Pike's
Peak three times.
"I call it a progressive disease," he said of
his passion for running longer distances. "Once
you get confidence that you're able to run
shorter distances, the distances grow."
Johns wrote a story about his adventures
following the 2000 event. Race director C.S.
Pandey learned of the story and invited him to
be a guest in 2003. Race officials sought event
promotion in the United States. After the
horrors of Sept. 11, American race participation
dipped from 25 in 2000 to two in 2003. The event
had 12 Americans this year among the 70
In 2004, Johns returned to study the core
values of these highly motivated, hard-core
runners. He identified what he calls the five
C's, or core values, possessed by these runners:
comfort zone, commitment, connection, common
sense and compassion.
Letting go of one's comfort zone is what an
endurance race is all about, he said.
Commitment also is important. Johns said he
and a friend spent a year planning and training
for the event.
"The reason we were there is that we said
we'd be there," he said. "We told people. We
verbalized our intentions and believed in the
Connection comes in many ways, he added. It
goes far beyond life experiences gained
traveling to a Third World country. He said he's
met fascinating people, often at speaking
engagements after his trips, who are making a
difference in the world.
Common sense is a necessity to finish such an
endeavor. Participants must have appropriate
training, pace themselves daily, be smart and
not take chances.
"The race has so many pitfalls and problems
and injuries because of the hard conditions and
altitude," he said.
That's where compassion comes into play.
"To get everybody across the finish line
requires compassion and teamwork," he said. "You
see the most elite runners helping the slowest
to make sure the majority of people finish. It's
a powerful thing to watch."
Johns said he might return for a fifth try in
October. Every time he goes, he learns more life
lessons and more about himself.
"By exposing yourself to very difficult
things, you redefine your personal definition of
what hard is," he said. "Other things you choose
to do seem easy."
For information about the race, visit