Who am I? David Failing, age 31. Mathematics professor at Lewis University by day, trail explorer, newbie mountain biker, and middle to back of the pack ultrarunner biting off (perhaps) more than I can chew the rest of the time. Trails bring me joy, and my fitness brings me to the trails.
In graduate school (at Iowa State University), I started running as a way to keep the fitness I’d gained from training for a multiday bike ride across Iowa. Along the way, I signed up for (and DNS’d) my first marathon, and found myself reading books by Dean Karnazes, Chris McDougall, and Scott Jurek for inspiration. When I moved to Quincy in 2014, I decided it was time to start exploring local trails on foot, and soon found myself a member of the Flatlander Ultrarunners in Chicagoland. At my first group trail run, I was convinced to sign up for my first 50K (6 weeks later), and I was hooked.
Since then, I’ve completed two 50Ks, a 50 miler, and my first 100 miler at the Arkansas Traveller in 2016. In training for Arkansas, my friend John and I ran from Quincy to Hannibal, MO (20 miles), and to Keokuk, IA (40+ miles). It has never been about the races or fast paces – for me, running and biking long distances is the ideal way to appreciate the world I live in, and I do my part to encourage others to do the same, in whatever way (and at whatever pace) they can.
This blog will chronicle a few things: my journey to completing all six 100 mile races in Illinois; my efforts to raise funds for Trails for Illinois; and most importantly, my visits to all 100+ of Illinois’ State Parks. I hope it will serve as an inspiration and travel guide to others looking to explore our great state, and encourage others to join the Trail Builder Challenge with me.
Have a request for my next park post? A recommendation for the next “5 Questions With…” interviewee? General feedback or questions about the blog? Get in touch here!