I’ve signed up to an ultramarathon marathon in October. Ok, so it’s only (only) 50km. But that is technically an ultramarathon. Anything over the marathon distance of 26.2 miles / 42km is. So I’ll take it!
A few years ago, an ultramarathon was something that I would have placed firmly in the ‘I am not doing that ever’ box. In fact, I probably would have put it in the ‘what even is that?’ box. But recently, a mixture of things have brought the idea to the forefront of my mind and into the realms of possibility.
Firstly, I’ve been inspired by the people I met through my old running club. Whilst I haven’t been for a long time, I still follow their antics, and have been amazed by the numerous ultramarathon feats I have seen. Feats achieved by people whom I know to be pretty normal. The learning here being that normal people (aka me) can do some pretty abnormal things, if they put their mind to it.
I’ve been inspired by some incredible elite ultra runners, too. There are some excellent books out there, including the recently published Runner by Lizzie Arnold, to classics, including Born to Run and Eat and Run. All of them tell the story of people achieving awe inspiring feats that I won’t ever expect to do (100+ miles no-thank-you). But, there was something in all of them that I really connected with on a personal level.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow!” What a Ride!””Hunter S. Thompson quoted by Lizzie Arnold, Runner
Trail running has also given me a way to rekindle my love of long distance running by merging an old passion for running, with my new one for hiking. I pretty firmly went off road marathons a few years ago, but trails feel so different to road running. I love the removal of any kind of time pressure and the inability really, to understand if I am doing particularly well or not. And the fact that it doesn’t really matter, so long as I’m enjoying it.
I also love that trail running has given me a new way to discover beautiful places on foot and to cover a greater distance than I would be able to do hiking. And I must admit that it is nice to carry so little on my back whilst cruising through some lovely scenery.
But mostly, I just love the idea that I might be able to do something that not that long ago I thought was completely out of the realms of possibility. The trail marathon that I did in May was the longest I’d run in over three years and somewhat of a test before I committed to anything longer. If I hated it then that would be it. But it was a joy! I loved it.
So here I go; 50km is in the diary. And then who knows? If I don’t hate that, maybe I’ll find myself a 50 mile to sign up to (although don’t hold me to that!).