I think it is just the way I was born. My brain compels me to do something every day that scares me. Not in a Bear Grylls, jumping-off-a-canyon-with-no-rope type of way, but within my interests I have always needed to push and push – to see how far life conspires to take me. Ultra-running is just one manifestation of that desire.
Running the same races in ten or twenty years’ time with a cabinet full of medals is not what it’s about for me. I don’t need to win Badwater ten times in a row to get joy from the sport. The real key to my enjoyment of ultrarunning is the journey to new and adventurous experiences, some of them linked to travel and meeting new people, but many of them rooted firmly within my own self.
I love every aspect of the ultramarathon, from the cold, hard solitude of training, through the camaraderie of nervously discussing tactics before the race, right up to the bitter end when you have run so far and laid yourself so bare that all you can do is stare at your withering soul in the mirror. And the race t-shirt that is so well deserved that you never want to take it off.
A taxi driver said something interesting to me the other day. He started talking about reincarnation and told me “In India we have a saying. When a person dies, if they still have desire, then they will come back. If they have no desire left, they will not”. That resonated with me.
Living ‘with desire’ means that I always find an abundance of opportunities and interesting tangents that life throws to me. For me, every day seems to chuck me a surprise gift, an opportunity to better myself or to have some fun. Fundamentally, I think that’s what life’s all about.