There are people who don’t understand runners and running. For many it is an alien sport, a form of torture and where are you running to anyway?
There are also runners who don’t understand runners. You see runners come in all shapes and sizes. There are skinny runners who can run short fast distances. Different skinny runners can run slower long distances. Almost all runners can run a 5k usually in the form of a parkrun on Saturday morning. Most of these will progress up to doing a 10k or maybe even a half marathon. And these are good distances to run and race. Far enough to be a challenge but short enough to be able to really race them.
The marathon distance is the bastion of the Charity runner, the bucket list runners and the serious distance runners. Whether it is in London, Edinburgh, Brighton or Manchester, tens of thousands run the marathon each year, the majority of which will be participating for their one and only try at the distance. It’s a hard distance to run and I admire anyone that steps up to the start line of one. When I did London Marathon in 2015 I really did think that I would never finish it. The last 2 miles seemed to go on for hours.
Running further than a marathon has to be a conscious choice and a bold choice. For starters an Ultra, officially anything further than a marathon, is not as big an event as a marathon at least not in the number of participants. The organisational setup is usually very similar in it’s professionalism and it must help that almost everyone can run and has usually trained for the event.
An Ultra is a mental event in that you can only go as far as your mind will let you. The moment you think that you can’t go on your body will just shut down. In my one and, so far, only Ultra I watched people give up when the going got tough and even succumbed myself with only 6 miles to go when I convinced myself that I couldn’t continue. At that moment my body shut down and I could not even get out of my chair when the Failure Bus came around to pick me up. My only DNF and something I hope to never have to deal with again, it took weeks to get not finishing out of my system, though to be honest it’s probably not all out.
For me, running further came from the premise that I have one speed and it isn’t a fast speed but for Ultras that is kind of what is needed. The ability to shut your mind off and plod ever onward, come what may, until the finish line is reached.
How far can I go? Well that’s what we’re here to find out.