I do not like jogging. But I love sprinting. More accurately, I used to love sprinting. Nowadays it causes me to tear muscles. Mostly when I am playing football. And when I say “football”, I mean “soccer”, not the game played by numbered knights in tights chasing odd-shaped balls. I am a striker, an attacker. Which means I am hard-wired to chase any ball rolling towards goal in an attempt to ram it into the net. I am pretty sure that, even at the age of 80, I will leap up out of my wheelchair to answer the call of my adrenaline.
Fortunately, I am unlikely ever to reach that age because I recently decided I want to run a marathon. Call it a mid-life crisis if you must, but I was watching runners of all shapes and sizes completing the last kilometres of the Amsterdam Marathon, when the urge suddenly hit me. Perhaps it was my last drop of adrenaline speaking, like a dying demon placing a curse upon my aging mind: “Do it or die trying.”
At first I laughed it off, but the urge kept rearing its ugly, jogging, wheezing head at the most inopportune moments. To make matters worse, two close friends recently ran marathons. In fact, one of them – you know who you are, you gung-ho bastard – recently completed his second marathon. This has terrifying consequences for me. It means that an ordinary 42-kilometre-plus marathon is just not going to cut it anymore. The demon in me says I need to do something more extreme, longer, harder, more heroic. Deadlier, even.
Unused adrenaline clearly feeds on rational thought, because I recently found myself googling ultramarathons. I thought that by reading up on these gruelling races, which regularly kill younger and fitter men than I, common sense would prevail. But I was wrong. The demon grew ever stronger.
So strong, in fact, that I decided to discuss the matter with my wife. I can still hear her laughing, even though I locked her in a cupboard a couple of hours ago. On the bright side, this has given me time to come up with a plan, which is to run the most beautiful ultramarathon, in the most spectacular landscape that will distract my wife long enough for me to complete the run.
I’m hoping readers will help me decide which superultramegamarathon is most beautiful. There’s the 90-kilometre Comrades Marathon in South Africa, of course, which kept me glued to the television in my youth. But there are also epic desert races like the Marathon des Sables in Morocco (a six-day race covering 250 kilometres), the Sahara Race in Egypt, and the Gobi March in China.
But I’m not very fond of heat, so I may try something cooler, like the Antarctic Ice Marathon, which is only 100 kilometres long, but apparently costs around $14,000 in entrance fees and travel expenses.
So, if you think your country has the most beautiful ultramarathon, please let me know. Meanwhile, I’ll be designing a set of mobile goalposts with a ball dispenser that will be towed ahead of me during the run to ensure a steady flow of adrenaline.