Rachel Burnike was a super-athlete best known for almost completing many extremely difficult physical challenges, such as nearly swimming the English Channel, almost summitting Mount Everest, nearly finishing the Leadville 100-mile footrace through the mountains, and dogsledding just about all the way across the Lambert Glacier in Antarctica.
Outside Magazine is furious with her. They have interviewed her several times and never has she given Kevin Radke, the unfortunate journalist assigned to her case, what he considers to be a satisfactory answer. He has stopped even trying to write up her near-exploits in narrative form, instead opting for the Q&A format that allows him to control the interview and also establish that he, Kevin Radke, is cool and important enough to be casual friends with an athlete like Rachel Burnike, who could have, if she wanted to, finished any of these challenges with ease, except she didn’t, which makes his blood boil, which he won’t show because he’s a laid back liberal journalist.
KR: I’m Kevin Radke, I’m sure you remember me, I’ve interviewed you several times before.
RB: I sort of remember you, yes.
KR: I had more hair last year. A little bit more up front.
RB: Oh right. And you were wearing a plaid shirt.
KR: Maybe. Anyway what everybody wants to know is, why don’t you finish these races? Obviously you could if you wanted to.
RB: Kevin, I think I’ve explained this before, but I’ve found that the best moment in these experiences is not the moment when you set foot on the summit, but rather the five or so minutes before that when you realize that yes, in fact, I am going to make it. And so I stop right there.
KR: Why not just finish, if you know you’re going to be able to finish?
RB: I find the joy in life lies in the anticipation.
KR: So if you summit, then you can anticipate going back down the mountain.
RB: It’s not so easy as that. Descending is a letdown. I like to have something to look forward to.
KR: As of now you have a lot to look forward to. Mainly, finishing every single massive athletic endeavor you’ve ever taken on.
KR: Any one of which you could have easily finished.
RB: Your forehead is sweating.
KR: No it’s not.
RB: Yes it is. It’s just about to drip into your eyebrows.
KR: Moving on. I think we have a friend in common. Kyle Lutke.
KR: Kyle Lutke holds the record for speed skating across the thinnest ice on the most nearly melted lake in the entire northern hemisphere.
RB: Oh KYLE! Yes, I know him. We went to college together.
KR: I met him in a photography class.
RB: We used to have brunch every Sunday when I lived in Philadephia.
KR: He came to my sister’s wedding.
RB: Last year he had shingles. That was tough.
KR: Especially with a new baby.
RB: Kyle has a new baby?
KR: Ha ha! I win.
KR: Never mind.
RB: Are we going to talk about my recent swim?
RB: For the interview. I thought we were going to talk about me almost swimming all the way down the Mississippi River.
KR: Fine. But you didn’t finish, did you?
RB: I almost finished. I got to Southern Louisiana and I got that feeling–
KR: The give-up feeling.
RB: I call it the “I can do this” feeling.
KR: And then you gave up.
RB: I like to think of is as “conserving my energy”
KR: It was so great to talk to you. Thanks for coming in again.
RB: You’re welcome. I’ll be back soon.
KR: I hope not.