Eight marathons in eight days and we are in the Caribbean Sea after running 6,504 miles across South America
Fifteen months ago, just as the Olympic gun resonated through the streets of London, bracing ourselves against a blizzard at the southerly-most point of continental South America, we began our race to run the length of the continent.
A year-and-a-half ago I’d never even heard of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc – the craziest most extreme ultramarathon of the lot. But the moment I discovered it, a little light went on, and it’s stayed on all this time. The UTMB – 100 miles across the Alps with 10,000 metres of elevation – has consumed my waking hours ever since and even a few my dreams.
Salta Province, northern Argentina. Two children stand by the side of the road. A silver car with blackened windows drives passed. The girls wave something at it. The car continues, but suddenly grinds to a halt and reverses.
Another weekend, another two-day blast as my training intensifies for the UTMB – now only four-and-a-half months away. This time I headed west for XNRG’s brilliantly organised Cotsworld Way Ultra-marathon. It took in 60 miles of the 102-mile national trail which runs from Chipping Campden in the north to Bath in the south.
Lunchtime running. Work takes up so much time that it can be difficult to fit in the training. One way round this that I’ve found is to run in my lunch break. If there’s time to go to the pub, there’s definitely time for a run.
Running events take you all over the country and perhaps to somewhere you wouldn’t usually choose to visit for a weekend – this time it was Hastings for the annual half marathon.
Buzzing in your ear, crawling over your skin, coiled in your boot or lying drunken in a woozy cloud of rotten apples. It takes a particular personality to appreciate the virtues of our six and eight-legged neighbours.
As I wake up inside our puffy down-feather sleeping bag, the body aches from running a marathon yesterday and the mind aches with the reality that Katharine, my fellow adventure runner and I will do it again today and tomorrow too.
We have all been taught the merits of planting trees. One by one, “The Man Who Planted Trees” popped fat acorns into the bare hill sides of Provence in Jean Giono’s spirtiual tale. Gradually the shepherd created a forest in a beautiful allegory of hope.
We’re over three weeks into our 5000 mile odyssey to run the length of South America for its threatened wild areas. Our feet are gradually becoming used to the daily routine, if not yet responding with true athletic gusto!
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