A year ago I crossed the finish line in at my 1st 100 mile race. I should have been happy. I should have been excited. I should have been thrilled beyond belief that I had accomplished something that less than 5 people (that I know of) on this planet have done and I did it in four years… Four short years taking myself from a 400 pound man to 100 mile finisher seems pretty epic. Most people that meet me and hear my story go speechless. I mean really, it sounds pretty cool. When you hear the 30 second version, it is.

I found out the people I was surrounded by looked at it differently. I looked at it differently. In all the ways I hoped it would change my life, it didn’t… For all the ways I didn’t think it would change me, it did. And above all else, I realized something. Something that hurt me deep down inside. Something it has taken me a year to get over. A 100 mile buckle left me empty. It didn’t fill my cup. I was missing something much greater. It took me running 100 miles to realize I was missing more in my life than I ever dreamed was available. I was missing love…

Love for myself. Love for others. Love from others. I didn’t deserve to finish either of my 100 mile races last year… Graciously the universe let me complete Buffalo Run to feel the emptiness. In her infinite wisdom she gave me all the tools and knowledge I needed to finish Buffalo Run and to learn for Leadville. She gave me all the lessons I needed to cross the finish line at 10,000ft. Everything I needed was given to me… and because I didn’t listen, she swept it away from me in the most brutal way possible just to be sure I learned the lesson I didn’t learn the first time.


A lot has happened in the last year. The rest of 2017 pretty much sucked for me, bad. From failing in business, to many crumbling personal relationships, to hitting a level of depression I didn’t even think was possible for me, to figuring out my drinking was completely out of control, to losing everything, and of all things I didn’t think I would lose or fail at…. My dream of finishing Leadville crumbled in front of my eyes and I couldn’t do anything about it…

I finished 2017 getting fired from my job, with no place to call home, no vision for the future, and with about $50 in my checking account … wondering what was next for me in life. With December and 2017 coming to a close, I had a couple long overdue decisions and actions left undone… They were hard. They were selfish. They changed my life in a way I’m not ready to talk about yet. But, I knew they were necessary and I would be stuck in the same spot for the rest of my life if I didn’t make the decisions right then right there. So I made them. I said goodbye. I left my world as I knew it for the big scary world. I jumped hoping to build my wings before I hit the ground.

On a whim and with the gracious help of friends and strangers, I have made the long overdue move to Colorado. Working in sales and marketing to get by and working every extra second I have to build and grow another dream of mine, Run Epic.

I’m a little over three months into 2018 and somehow I haven’t crashed, yet. Somehow things are moving along and I’m making small bits of progress every single day. I’ve had some opportunities fall into my lap and I’ve fully taken advantage of them. I’ve been given the gift of travel. Traveling has put me in front of people that I would have never met in any other way. I’ve had learning experiences I can’t explain.

Every day I am learning, organizing, working, running, loving, healing, growing, and being patient in many aspects of life. One of the great lessons I’ve learned over the past 5 years is anything that comes too fast and too easy doesn’t turn out to be worth it. Part of the anticipation, waiting, and sticking with the goals and actions is what makes the accomplishment worth it. Every day I fail at something new is a great day. Every day I make a stride of progress is an even better day. Every once in a while I make a big leap in the right direction. I have learned to keep my head up and my feet moving forward in a way I never have before.

Part of me says “duh”, you have always done this. With the weight loss, the walking, the eating properly, the running, the success in sales and business… But what I’m realizing is the strides I have taken this year pack something I haven’t felt before. The steps are the same, but the impact is greater than it has ever been before. I’d like to say I have been the reason for the better movement forward… but I think the universe has kicked my ass hard enough the last two years and she is finally giving me some breathing room. I was smart enough to reflect on everything I screwed up and learn every lesson I could from my mistakes so I can implement a better thought and action process moving forward. I’m slowly figuring out every challenge and adversity I have faced throughout my life has led me to where am I today and it keeps me on my current path forward.

Every single time I want to quit, every time I want to give up, any time I want to find and follow the easy road, she gives me guidance to be steadfast toward my goals and the future I want to create for myself and the people around me. I have learned that no matter how bad it gets, no matter how many reasons we have to quit, no matter what obstacles & adversities we are faced with, the next step forward becomes the most important step. If we can just figure out a way to take that next step forward, we can start to see our future in a different way. We are given the information and experiences we need to go one more step, just one more so we can learn more, take more action and continue on the path we are destined to be on.

This is why the first step is the hardest but it is also the most important. When we start, we don’t see the whole journey…. We can only see the next step so we get scared. When we get scared, we let the fear of the unknown overtake us and so we don’t start to begin with. So we go back to our normal. We accept our “reality” of where we are and convince ourselves that there is nothing out there worth giving up our comfort. We tell ourselves that we are in the best job we deserve. We are surrounded by the best friends and lover we deserve. We live in the best place for us. We convince ourselves that we are happy with our mediocrity and so we accept what we are doing and where we are.

We buy extravagant gifts for others with the hopes that we can buy a better love relationship. We buy material possessions to fill the gaps in our own hearts. We buy big houses and fancy cars to impress the people around us that don’t even care. We work overtime for a boss or a company that doesn’t give an extra ounce acknowledgement to us. We rack up tens of thousand dollars of credit card debt giving us a temporary feeling of fulfillment and then when that feeling goes away, we buy more.

In life, in business, in fitness & health, in personal relationships, we never get down to the root cause of our problems. One is because we don’t want to believe and accept there is a problem. Two is we are too full of fear to do anything about it anyway so we are better off accepting who we are and where we are. We blame everything and everyone else around us because we know deep down if we take personal responsibility for our situation, it is going to be painful and we are too scared to take the necessary action to fix it anyway.

I talk to people all day long. People make fun of me for my social media interaction, but I get to talk to lovely people who want to get better. People don’t like that I challenge the status quo and ask a million questions, but I have learned that most of the people I was surrounded by before have no idea what they are talking about. I waste money on travel and experiences, but I’ve learned more about myself and others because I talk to strangers in many parts of the world that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Someone asked me why I think I can change the world. It’s a great question. The answer is complicatedly simple. By myself, I know I can’t. If I had any army, I still probably couldn’t. But if I can meet and talk to enough people on a personal level, ask them enough questions, learn about what makes them happy & sad, what their fears, doubts and insecurities are, I can help them develop their action plan to go where ever they want to go in life.

The only way to change the world is through ideas. I know I don’t have all the ideas. But if I can meet enough people and have enough experiences, I will learn and grow in a way that can create a level of action in myself and the people around me that we can grow within ourselves. The ideas of a few men and women have given me the life I have today. If I can give people I come into contact with the same experience, I will have changed enough for the world to make dying broke and happy worth it.

It took me a long time to realize I would be judged for the way I want to live my life. Living a full, happy, and adventurous life is frowned upon because most people see instability. They don’t see the daily interactions, exchanging of ideas, and the small daily changes I get to make for myself and others. Some day when I look my boys in the eyes, I want them to be proud of the person I’ve become. I know there are many days I’m not the best father, believe me, I’m told that enough. I don’t need any more people telling me that. But one day they are going to understand that as bad of a father I am today, I am a much better than the guy who was going to put himself 6 feet under by his 35th birthday. He was worse because of the way he sat in front of the T.V., ate, drank, lived, and wasted his time anyway. One day I’m going to have to explain what I’m doing and why I’m doing it to them and when I’m done explaining, I hope they not only look up to me, but I want to them to break their own mold and follow in my footsteps.

When they do, all my mistakes, failures, experiences, all the criticism, dirty looks, and hatred that has been sent my way will all be worth it because it was me that broke the law of hypnotic rhythm for my boys. If I didn’t go through my entire life fighting my fears, working through criticism from others, overcoming adversities, and constantly learning from my mistakes and shortcomings, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I hope my boys can say the same thing when they grow and mature. I hope the gifts I’m giving them today will far outlast the stacks of material love fillers the old me would have left them.

It’s been one hell of a year and an extraordinary ride so far. I can’t wait to see what happens next. All I can guarantee is it is going to be an epic adventure full of people, pictures, a renewed spirit, and a full heart. Hopefully, with the grace and generosity of the universe, I will have become a person worthy of finishing Leadville in 2018. I hope she gives me the opportunity to experience the happiness before, during, and after this time. I took her generosity for granted last time… I have already promised her, I won’t ever take her generosity for granted ever again.

May you learn from your failures and adversities with an open mind and a full heart.


Best Day Yet,


Run Epic Running Life Positivity Journey


Published by Gary Stotler

Gary Stotler is a father, running, fitness, weight loss and personal development addict. Formally 400 pounds, Gary has naturally lost 200 pounds, created a coaching & speaking business and has become a 100 mile ultra-runner. Holding a degree in Psychology & Sociology, certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer, mindset & behavioral modification coaching, a certification in DISC personality assessment coaching and he is a certified speaker, coach & mentor with the John Maxwell Team. Gary firmly believes, if we take One Step at a Time, nothing is impossible. He is determined to let his actions show people what is possible and hopes to help you shake up your thoughts, change your actions and create your future.

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  1. Excellent post, Gary. I am so excited for what is to come for you! A clear mind allows a lot to flow in and your creativity and enthusiasm to carry you forward. Keep it up! I hope you know I will always be in your tribe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Powerful & deep. I read this post through tears, both happy & sad. I’m so proud of the man you’ve become & I’m looking forward to seeing Cameron & Carter growing into gentlemen with some of these traits. Life is short. Buy the running shoes Gary.

    Liked by 1 person

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