Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

The Danger of Checkpoint 24

Each year about four dozen athletes gather in Minnesota for the St. Croix 40 Winter Ultra. Runners spend good money to embark on a 40-mile ultra-marathon, at night, in January, in Minnesota, while pulling a sled packed with 30-plus pounds of supplies. In this environment, you can literally die from standing still for too long.

Over 25% of the runners will not finish the race. Most of these will drop out at a very interesting point. Participants reach mile marker 24 (aka Checkpoint 24) between 10 pm and midnight. If a runner plans to take on the last 16 miles, he/she must prove they have the skills to stay alive in the case of an emergency. They must stop, set up their bivy sack (a body-shaped tent that envelops their sleeping bag), climb into the makeshift bed, wait around 30 seconds, then pack it all up before leaving.

Personally, that sounds like the easiest part of the race. But when the temperature nears zero, and you're covered in sweat, coming out of a very brief respite in a sleeping bag the temptation to quit is strong. The most dangerous thing a runner can do in a race like this is stop.


Sarah Scoles, “Hell? Yes; Endurance athletes and the pleasure of pushing it,” Popular Science (Summer 2020), pp. 38-45

Related Sermon Illustrations

The World's Hardest Race

None of the 40 runners who attempted to finish the 100-mile Barkley Marathons in the mountains of eastern Tennessee completed the race, the first time since 2007 that the endurance ...

[Read More]

61-year-old Sheep Herder Wins the Australian Ultramarathon

In 1983, Australia hosted its ultramarathon, a 573.7 mile foot race from Sydney to Melbourne. This is a race that takes days to run, and professionals from all over the world came ...

[Read More]