Monday, September 3, 2012


I attended  a rather elegant lunch party the other day, everyone was dressed in their coolest summer attire.....well everyone except me of course....I was in my usual shorts and singlet; luckily I have a reputation as this rather weird ultra runner who is obssessed with fitness and so I seem to get away with it....although the fact that I only drink water always seems to screw everyone up. Then they start asking me questions like 'How far do you run, how high and for how long?'...which is then always followed by a 'Why?'
       I do try to form an erudite and suitably intelligent answer but at a large social gathering when most people have drunk rather a lot of wine I have to admit that I must sound a bit weird. In fact I heard the one and only Anton Krupicka (He of the elite, no shirt group of runners) say that during the 100 mile Leadville race he felt this sport was a bit 'silly'....okay that was after 17 hours of non stop running but he has a point. Is what we do silly or weird or just plain nuts? I mean I know we all like running through the wilderness, forests and mountains but !! Actually its strange how you get out of practice because last week I did a two and a half hour, 20k run with 4000 feet of elevation gain and normally this would be no big deal but because I'd been taking it easy for the last few months I found it quite demanding. This could have been for several reasons; Fitness (unlikely), Heart worries (possibly) or worn out shoes on rugged terrain (bingo!) that had to be it. I've had my Cascadia 6's for a good 700 miles and so I got straight on to Brooks Running and ordered the highly rated Cascadia 7's in fiery volcanic red. No doubt by next week I'll be lighting up the trail like Anton himself and if I remove my shirt as well I'll be flying.
     But back to the lunch party, our host Nicholas is 65 years old going on 17. He has lived a very 'full' life to put it mildly and yet somehow, despite behaving like Keith Richards brother, he seems to retain a youthful exuberance that completely belies his existence. How does he do it ? He doesn't run up mountains or drink water (God forbid), he party's all the time and has boundless energy. It is one of life's unique conundrums that despite all my strict specialist nutrition and Spartan like fitness routine Nick has always got loads more energy than I have! Now that is weird.
     But I, why run ultra marathons? Its not very good for you, it can be boring, tiring and exhausting, it takes tons of time, training and discipline, its not exactly very sociable ( I don't no anyone who runs ultra's except my friend Jamie and he lives in China!), and so the question still remains, why? Well in the final analysis I've arrived at the only conclusion possible and the reason I do it is because........ I am completely certifiable! Sorry but thats the simplest explanation I've got; every ultra runner is in fact a nutcase or bonkers, mad, weird, totally loopy and should be commited to a government institution....oh and possibly masochistic too. Okay, so now you know, any other plausible explanations are utter fabrications of someone trying to justify what they do.
     Unlike most people who run regularly I shall tell the truth. It hurts and this idea of being addicted to a runners high is just plain bull***t. I don't know about anybody else but for me I think I just enjoy the quiet and the stillness, now I suppose I could get that by going for a hike but that feels to lightweight, ( sort of like why have a diet coke if you want a coke ?....its all crap so you might as well have the real thing).
    What I would say is that there are many moments of joy and wonder mixed in with the hardship and maybe its this antithesis that has an appeal......and when you complete it and finish, its such an emotional experience it sort of makes it worth all the pain. I should imagine my friend Nick has no idea what I'm talking about....but as I said, he's weird anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment