With January each year in Hawaii comes the HURT100. And this year, just as it has done for the last 14 years, the gruelling ultra running event took place around the Tantalus trails of Oahu. ONE HUNDRED MILES – all at once, with very little stopping. Not only does this event cover a very long distance, it also climbs and descends over 20,000ft – 24,935ft to be precise. Everest is 29,035ft.
Along with many other local runners, I signed up to volunteer at one of the aid stations along the route of the race. Volunteering is a great way to be involved with any event. At an ultra running event such as the HURT100 you can contribute to many different aspects of the race, including helping the participants with their feeding, watering and general ‘maintainence’ throughout the race. I often think of aid stations as old-school petrol, or gas stations (which still exist in S. America), where personal attendants look after your every road-trip need and wish you ‘bon voyage‘ on exit. The atmosphere at ultra running events is surprisingly relaxed – why? Well, that’s a whole other blog post but I’m sure it has everything to do with the racing against your self, and very little to do with competition in the traditional sense. It’s an atmosphere that begets inclusion, and for me it feels closest to the fell running community in the UK. Being present at an ultra also means you will inevitably witness incredible human feats: people who can’t feel their fingers getting up and setting off on their final 20mile loop; people who knock knees on rocks, or roll ankles, yet keep moving until they literally can’t take another step; and people who have overcome great odds just to make the start line then finishing the race – or in the case of the HURT100 – kissing the sign and ringing the bell!
And does being a volunteer at an ultra develop a sense of eagerness to sign up? Personally, yes – especially because last year I had planned to run but then decided to ‘DNS’ in anticipation/ fear of other things. But for many people it reminds them that running 100miles is a unique sport – not everyone’s cup of tea…
But it did make me think. About running. And about why we run. Of course I have thought about that question before but this time it’s different. As a volunteer at one of the hardest ultra races around, you really begin to wonder why people are running? There are, without doubt, as many different reasons to run as there are people in the world – but for now let’s start with ONE. Think of one reason why you run. Or re-read The Oatmeal’s post about the terrible and wonderful reasons to run HERE.
One reason why I run? Argh! OK that really is a tough question!! Right now, I can definitely say it’s because it makes me feel intensely alive. Clichéd but true. It hasn’t necessarily always been that way but I think I’ve come full circle and have reached a point where I can say that running has taught me A HUGE LOT, to the point where I’m aware of almost every little step – in a good way!
This week I’ve read two great blog posts by elite female runners from Oiselle. 1. 5 Questions with Lauren Fleshman. 2. This is the Year I Race Fearless. Both Kate and Lauren have a way with words that resonates, and remind you there are many great reasons to run (just incase you couldn’t think of one!).
Run to grow: “Our heroes seem impossible, and our low points make us feel inferior, when the reality is everyone is screwing up all the time and all we need to do is learn how to process it and move forward more effectively so we can spend more time on earth growing with our eyes wide open.” Lauren Fleshman.
Run to embrace everything life throws at you: “I believe that there is a deeper personal struggle in every race. And that is one of the coolest aspects of running, that everyone can relate to these battles. “Winning” can mean finish, PR, or first.” Kate Grace.
And so with those reminders, I’m off to run, and a goal for 2015 is to keep working at the marathon distance. After the Honolulu marathon I felt like I’d taken a big step forward, but yet, there is more to give. And so, May 10th, Eugene marathon here I come. The ultimate goal is to break 3 hours in Eugene, and heck – later in the year even try to break 2:45. It’s a big task and there is a lot of work to do but these are the dreams we people who run seem to have…
In the immediate future expect a few more blog posts and articles about, you guessed it… running and yoga, and everything in between including an open and honest look at the marathon process. I hope to get the Hawaii focused podcast going again and am also working on a new podcast with Julia from Running on Om, check it out HERE. I have also started coaching runners privately, drop me an email via the contact page if you are interested and would like more information. Other news includes the return of the Mana Bar very soon, and… my other major goal this year is to finish writing a book about Retracing Routledge and prepare the exhibition that will take place in Darlington!! Watch this space…
Here’s to 2015 – with wide-eyed reasons to run and crazy goals!