More on Why I Love Ultras

Southern storm - 2009

Southern Storm – 2009

Whoa, time flies when I’m having fun. It’s been two weeks since my first blog post, when I quipped that it was time to go running to get closer to the answer of why I love ultras. Today, in my second blog post, I want to elaborate on the pull of ultras.  And end off with the challenge of capturing my thoughts on this ultra topic, in a single sentence!

In the aftermath of an ultra, I forgive it easily and very very quickly. The powerful emotions surrounding my sense of achievement simply wipe out the primal threats of exhaustion, pain, hunger and sleep deprivation.  Once I cross the finish line, the fear of the unknown makes way for relief and elation. The hardship fizzles into a nothingness, a very distant memory. I soon continue the journey, as I rest my legs and surf the web for the next challenge.  Inevitably a tougher ultra pops up and begs of me to enter.  Luring me with breathtaking photos, mind-blowing route descriptions, great reviews, promises of exclusivity and so on.  This drives my constant search for how far I can go and so boomerangs another ultra into my life. The bonus is awarded on my next long run, when I discover the huge fitness gain brought on by my most recent ultra.  It is then, when I have-to-have the next goal saved in my calendar, ASAP!

The ultra is within reach on a physical level, of most people, because the goal of the majority of ultra participants is merely to survive and finish.  As long as they approach training in a systematic and sensible way, they can do it.  And since their ultra is not a race against others, great physical endurance often comes from impromptu “teams” who stick together for mutual encouragement. It gets a lot easier to keep moving when group momentum drives you.  And since most ultras play off in nature, the sheer beauty and remoteness of it all somehow converts into a physical energy that carries you.

The ultra is magic waiting to happen on a psychological level, for most people.  Ordinary people get their chance to achieve extraordinary things. Once I realized most people are born with ultra potential, I realized I too had no limits. We all love to hear true stories of people showing extreme feats of endurance, such as summiting high mountains or escaping concentration camps, walking across entire countries through the icy snow of winter, followed by the blistering heat of the desert in summer. So, the ultra is your chance to keep things real and create your own true story of survival.  Ha-ha, luckily today we have access to stores of advanced tech gear, at a price of course, to make it a hell of a lot more fun. Retail therapy with a purpose! And so through ultras, everybody gets a chance to escape routine, the constant noise of daily life and battles such as climbing corporate ladders or keeping up with the Joneses. And the chance to create much-needed head space.

Right now I face the following ultra challenge: capturing the essence of my first and second blog posts in a few words…through ultras most people can take on a challenge, in search of their own limits, connect with nature and like-minded souls and walk away with an ultra rewarding sense of achievement.

Phew! Done and dusted.  I did not get the t-shirt.

However, I am hopeful to get the t-shirt next weekend, when I set off on The Fish River Canyon 100km Ultra.  Looking forward to share the highs and lows of the Fish with you when I return, in my next blog post!

Happy running.

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