Chase Parnell

Ultra Runner - Writer

My 2017 Goals: Win all the races. See all the places. Do all the things.

goals pic

So I know I’m like three months behind for a goals post, but the dust in my life is just now starting to settle enough to craft some plans. I’m writing this really only because I got inspired when I stumbled upon Kristina Pattison’s fairly old post about committing. There she waxes poetic about this short fragile life and the value of going all in. Like really all in. Read it.

I recently got laid off from my job in Bozeman, Montana. I was working on corporate contracts for the tech behemoth Oracle. What the hell is a Fortune 500 company doing in Bozeman you might ask? I think they are wondering the same thing … hence the lay-offs.

Why share this fun fact with you? Well, because losing the job has led me to a cross-road. A door has opened. The security is gone. My wife and I were forced to decide what we actually wanted from life. We decided on family. We decided on Oregon. But I have no job there. Who cares…

I’m writing this from a plane, somewhere off the coast of Greenland. We decided that before we settle down in Bend, we would use this transition period as an excuse to check some travel boxes before we are so tied down with kids that we can’t get out the front door, let alone pull off a month in Europe.

We are currently en route to the U.K. where we will spend about three weeks in a VW Nomad, hopping from campsite to campsite, hiking the fell country, driving north to Scotland, and channelling our inner William Wallace [It’s called FREEEEEEDOM, you heard of it?].

Next we head to Portugal’s southern coast for some R&R in the sun. We figured we’d hedge our bets; if the weather is terrible in the U.K., at least we’ll have Portugal.

The primary objectives are to explore the Lake District, check out the Cairngorms, go up Ben Nevis, and putz around the Isle of Skye. Google any one of these and you’ll get an idea of why we picked the U.K. of all the places in the world.

So that’s what we are doing up until now. What about the rest of 2017?
Here’s my tentative race schedule:

1) May 13thSmith Rock Ascent 50k – to win I’ll have to beat Ian Sharman and a mid 13-minute 5k guy named Thomas Morgan….NBD.

2) July 14thSanta Barbara 100k or 100 miles. I’m running this mostly for the UTMB points. My brother and I are planning to make another pilgrimage to Chamonix in 2018. Sub 24 hours at UTMB or bust.

3) August 19thElkhorn Crest 53 miler. My buddy Aaron Maxwell roped me into this one. A first-year race in some sick remote mountain range in northeast Oregon. Should be a low-key good time – a real humdinger.

4) September 29thThe Bear 100. This is obviously my 2017 “A” race. This one I’d kill to win. I’m hoping that with another year of experience under my belt, and three 100-mile finishes now, I can finally knock a hundred out of the park. But Nelson, Koop, Bien, Humphries, Hammond, Langner, and others are all tough and will all be shooting for the same.
The gaping void in this 2017 discussion is what I am going to do with my professional career (see aforementioned lay-off). Well … I desperately want to throw my whole life into the running world. Running is really the only thing in my life that has stuck over the long haul. There has to be a reason for that, right? …right?

The plan would be to hustle. The equation would consist of the following amalgam of pursuits: continuing to train my ass off and race, building this here site you are reading now, creating and directing a race, trying to get sponsors that could help with gear or travel or finances, perhaps picking up some hours at a running shoe store, getting deeply involved in the Bend and greater Oregon running communities, and continuing to coach high school and adult runners. The problem, however, is that there is little to no guarantee that I can make an actual living doing that. Trying to make that type of work last would require 100% commitment.

The alternative is the desk. The cubicle. The hierarchy. The 9 to 5. The cushy life from a financial perspective, but the work itself I’m sure would be devastatingly pointless and mind-numbingly boring. Sure, there could be some nice co-workers, like I had at Oracle, but I’ve learned that I need the actual work to matter … to me.

Only time will tell if I’ll end up pursuing my dream. Come six months from now, I’ll either be hustling in the running world and maybe loving every second of it or my conviction will falter and I’ll succumb to the fear that oftentimes accompanies uncertainty and doubt – and the desk will be waiting.

Let’s take a second and try to get fired up. I bless you with the following clip:

Every part of me is telling me to “just do it” [flex and then fist to palm] in the words of the great philosopher Shia Labeouf.

Isn’t Shia sort of like the modern day William Wallace? No? Okay, but still…

There’s no holding back in 2017. A cross-roads has come and now it’s up me to do it. We’ll see what happens.

I’ll end with probably my favorite quote of all time:

“If you want to take the island, burn your boats.”

Whether we are talking about running, your career, your self-image, anything…that’s courage. That’s commitment. That’s choosing to back yourself into a corner and forcing yourself to fight your way out.



  1. Heck yea Chase! Looking forward to following your pursuits. if there is one thing I’ve realized more fully since writing that post, it’s that going “all in” is more about commitment to the process than guarantees on results. We don’t all make money or get famous but we can all push ourselves past personal boundaries and live a life of freedom to be ourselves in the process. Burn ’em. -KPat

    • KPat! Thanks for the kind words. Your writing really has inspired me. I think you nailed it in that expanding our personal inner boundaries is what we are really striving for…mastery of those whispers that us we can’t achieve what we know we can. You keep pushing and I’ll do the same! Stoked to see what you’ll do in 2017…you’ve amassed some great experience – you’ve put a lot of hard earned money in the bank – I think a big withdrawal is coming your way! All the best!

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