How does one feel after a 50 km ultra marathon?…. Half as broken compared to running a full century I guess. Last Sunday, I participated in Adelaide’s inaugural 50 km Cleland trail race. I haven’t run an event shorter than 100 km for years now, so this was somewhat out of my comfort zone (if there is such a thing). My decision to participate was sporadic; after reading the final weather forecast on Wednesday and being guaranteed a rain-free day, the possibility was made concrete. The idea to participate was actually another of my midnight epiphanies. I tend to wake up a number of times throughout the night with a sea of ideas swarming through my mind. This one simply whispered “Cleland”, and I felt an accompanying sense of security – the universe spoke.
‘Belief will help create the fact’ – a slightly bastardised version of William James’ quote in “Is Life Worth Living?” The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy (1897), that pinpoints the psychological tactic I used to survive my most recent ultramarathon.
100 km of running through mountaineous trails might not be everyone’s cup of tea – but I’m a chai latte addict. There is something sacrosanct, therapeutic and intrinsically raw about sacrificing oneself to the powers of nature and commencing a journey of 100 km, wearing only one’s clothes and carrying a backpack of supplies. One must respect the distance, acknowledge it, yet not become overwhelmed by the toll the endeavour will take. It ultimately comes down to putting one foot in front of the other, and repeating this sequence very many times. One has to accept, from the outset, that the process will be treacherous, challenging and issues will arise; pain is inevitable. Yet, to finish an ultramarathon, there must also be an accompanying degree of faith, a belief that the end WILL appear and that amidst the trials and tribulations, one will cross the finish line.