Since telling friends and family I had entered an ultra I’ve been asked the same few questions – over and over in some cases – and it’s was getting tedious. So, here are the questions I keep getting asked, and the answers – as honestly as I can.
• But Why?
Because I can; because it’s there; why not? These are my go to, if slightly flippant, responses to the why question. While that is the bare bones of it, it’s not just that. There is more. It’s about finding where the limits are in the distances I can cover – both physically and mentally. I still like to run fast (a relative term) and I would still love to run a sub 90 minute half marathon, but at the moment I think I am more interested in far rather than fast. I may live to regret that decision when fast is no longer an option. Even if fast is a relative term.
• Isn’t it just a form of sadomasochism?
Well, yes I guess it is; just without the inconvenience of needing whips, ball gags and a sex dungeon. I know it sounds weird, but there is a cleansing from the suffering. It resets the stresses and tensions of modern life – whatever modern life is, it’s just life isn’t it? I honestly feel like I’m a better person, but more specifically a better parent and husband, when I run on a regular basis. So I really feel for my wife and kids when I’m injured, I must be a nightmare to live with – even more than usual.
• You must run a lot!
Well I should, but I don’t. Not really. Not compared to proper runners. I ran much further while training for Boston Marathon (still not that Boston Marathon). This is mainly because for the marathon I had a ‘proper’ target to aim for, where as for the Gower 50 and Hope24 it was all about the distance rather than time. However when I return to the distance, and I am sure I will, I guess the time might become more important. Might? Will
• You ran 50 miles?
Yes! Well no; sort of. I ran some, maybe even most of it, but I certainly didn’t run all of it. But even the guy who won it must have walked some of it. Well I bloody hope so anyway.
• Didn’t it hurt?
Well, yes it did. At times it was grim, but all races are grim at times. I maintain that 5km is the most disgusting distance to race, it’s essentially 2km at full gas then 3km of just clinging on hoping for it to finish before you see your breakfast again. It might only last 20 minutes or so, but its bloody horrible. The Gower 50 might have been grim at times, but there were also huge swathes of enjoyment. Running at a comfortable pace, taking in the vistas, chatting and eating. What’s not to like?
• So, what next?
I don’t know actually (other than a couple of shorter races before the end of the year), but I think I want to race ultras again. In fact I know I want to. On the Monday night after Gower 50, Tom and I were sending links to 100 milers to each other like naughty schoolboys passing pornos around at the back of the bus. Hope24 is on the radar for next year too, but this year I can see a distance target being laid down to gun for (100km, 80 miles, something like that). If it fits in to the grand scheme I would love to finally run the full Man Vs Horse route, but it’s the week before Hope24.
So what’s next? *subject to approval*
o Spring Marathon/shorter ultra (30ish miles)
o Man Vs Horse
o 100 miler
• Have you always been a runner?
Hell no. I don’t really consider myself to be a runner now. I run, but I’m not necessarily a runner.