Chuck and Michelle Seligman during their 62-mile, 18-hour endurance race on Jan. 11 in South Texas. (Photo courtesy of Chuck Seligman).
Chuck and Michelle Seligman during their 62-mile, 18-hour endurance race on Jan. 11 in South Texas. (Photo courtesy of Chuck Seligman).

Baptist chaplain sees spiritual lessons in 100K race

CBF-endorsed Air Force Maj. Chuck Seligman said he learns more about his body and faith everytime he completes an endurance race — including a 62-mile event held in Texas Jan. 11-12.

By Jeff Brumley

It would seem like Air Force Maj. Chuck Seligman got all the danger and excitement he needed from several combat deployments and more than 20 years in uniform.

But then there was the belt buckle they give to finishers of the Bandera 100K Trail Race, a brutal run over 62 rocky miles in Hill Country State Natural Area northwest of San Antonio, Texas.

Seligman, 42, a chaplain endorsed by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, said he just had to have that buckle.

SELIGMANbuckleIn an ABPnews/Herald blog about the experience, Seligman wrote that “nothing would stop me from getting it .... I even thought of a Scripture verse where Jesus talks about violent men who take the Kingdom of God by force.”

Seligman, the deputy chaplain of the 59th Medical Wing in San Antonio, got his belt buckle — but it wasn’t easy. He spared some time to speak with ABPnews/Herald about the experience of pushing his body to the limit with relatively little training.

In your blog, you say your wife, Michelle, asked if you were crazy to run this race. Are you?

Well, a lot of people thought that. But I run with a bunch of guys who do 100-milers and 130-milers — a lot crazier things .... It’s just the people around me challenging me to do a lot more .... I used to think “a marathon, that’s crazy.” Now I did a 100k, which is 62 miles, and my thought was, “I can do that again.”

Did you run the entire distance?

No, because we didn’t train. We decided to do this nine weeks out and that’s what made it crazy. We were already pretty well trained for marathon and 50K distance ... so we decided during the race we were just going to run the flats, try and run and jog downhill where you can, and walk the uphill.

How long did it take you to finish?

The elites ran it in eight hours .... We took 18 hours and 58 minutes. We started at 7:30 in the morning (Jan. 11) and we finished sometime after 2:30 in the morning (Jan. 12).

You said "we." Did Michelle run, too?

We run all of our races together .... Our goal for last year was to run a total of 1,000 miles together. Our whole relationship has evolved around running.

How does that work — is one of you faster than the other?

There’s a lot of races where I could finish faster, or she could finish faster, but we take great pride of finishing together. ... I love coming across the finish line holding her hand. ... When you accomplish something together it's better and we need each other. She pushes me and I push her.

Did you have any severe physical problems during the 100K?

We had quite a few people go to the hospital for dehydration, for busted knees and all kinds of issues. I had dehydration issues because we had not tested our supplement and I was carrying two bottles of supplement and no water. ... For the first 10 miles I felt great, but then I started getting hot. When I started hydrating, I felt a little better. ... The rest of the day we just stuck with water ... which is what a lot of people did and they finished.

Was your military service a help to you during this and other big runs?

Well, yeah. I’ve been in 23 years. The military matured me and built a discipline in me from the time I was 18 years old, just over all. ... And of course the overall fitness that the military instills in us — we have to stay in condition.

And your theological training and career in ministry — were they of use to you as well?

Yes. When I started running it was therapeutic, and there’s a sense of real accomplishment when ... your body hurts and you push yourself to finish a race. Paul says to finish the race. You run so that you can finish, and you have a strategy in mind, and you need knowledge and wisdom, and I have used those in some of my teaching and preaching in sermons about resiliency. You have to know when to know your limit, and that takes humility, and that’s a spiritual principle.

So you use these lessons in your chaplaincy work?

I’m developing a resiliency training event, based on my running. That includes how we ought to be living healthy lives — putting good things in our bodies so we can get good things from our bodies.

So you’re a big supporter of healthy eating, too?

I run so that I can enjoy the good food and the good drink and the other things I enjoy in life. After (the 100K) we had a big old hamburger with fries.