The more I get involved in the world of ultra running, the more aware I become of the fact that other people are driven to do it through much better reasons than those which have driven me.
I hear endless accounts of people overcoming depression, addiction or grief through the act of pushing their bodies over a long distance, finding hope and comfort in the act of doing what humans are designed to do, in the natural beauty of the outdoors.
So why then have I turned to the sport, what has possessed me to decide to push my body to the absolute limit, day after day after day?
I have to say – I still feel like a fraud in this light. My life has been relatively comfortable, with minimal suffering, a slightly dysfunctional but incredibly supportive family, a good education and plenty of opportunities to explore, learn and challenge myself.
When searching for these reasons I looked to the last thing I did which I invested 100% of my mind – my kayaking career. I put everything into this only to find out it wasn’t enough to get to where I wanted to be. Heartbreaking. But also not enough to push me into this challenge.
Then I looked at other aspects of my life which I invested large amounts of time. This fell mostly to education – with which I have never really struggled, but again never been able to convince myself to work hard enough to get to where I want to be. But again, turning to ultra running wasn’t going to make me any more academically minded or alter the grades I have already achieved.
And that’s when it started to click. I have ambition, I have a competitive edge, I work hard and I tend to love the things I do. But what I fail to do is recognise the things I achieve, because I know that if I had worked a tiny bit harder, seeked a little more advice, pushed myself a little further… I could have achieved something better. In effect, I think I do have one major thing to overcome by setting out on this run.
In Scandinavia there will be nowhere to hide. There will be noone to rely on. There will be no distractions. There is just me and my surroundings and I have only one job – to make it to the German border. This gives me an opportunity to really put my body on the line, to challenge myself completely and to have no option but to give it everything, because it may come to that to survive. In that way I hope I will finally be able to credit myself with doing something well. Or something worthwhile at least.
I don’t want to sound over dramatic. I know that people have fought so much more, achieved so much more and shown so much more strength. But I think that this is what it is about for me. Creating an achievement which I can be truly proud of, inspiring others by doing so and raising a few pennies on the way.
Oh and because I’ll feel like one badass mother f****r when I’m done.