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  • Daithí Ó Murchú

Reflections on Several Races and Challenges...

I suppose the essence of what some call a 'a crazy race' is that it cannot be described as a race but more as a sadistic, self imposed challenge. Be it an Extreme Irish Ultra as in the InishOwen Peninsula, Donegal, Quest, or electric shocks, barbed-wire, mountains and sniper alley in Hell and Back, or the 6633 Ultra highway to hell, in the Yukon or the Arctic Circle Ultra, or indeed Everest and so many more, etc, the same rule applies...Enter at your Peril and forget about your limits as there are No limits!!

All such challenges demand the same respect and 'stupidity' lol.....Their rewards are simple...the knowledge that YOU CAN drive your body beyond physical, psychological and spiritual pain and still have fun in doing so as you go 'Beyond'.

Some protagonists claim a Spiritual, inner response when in situ. "I AM just there" mind and body, planning, adapting, surviving and sensing the presence of the event in all its glory. Yes indeed, the preparation of the body is take on for example a double loop of Hell and Back, knowing that the single loop drives people berserk and to the point of pure exhaustion demands the 'head-space' to also be in tact and ready for action and reaction. Mind and Body working as ONE.

To go to the Arctic Ocean goes beyond mind and body... a beautiful place of unexpected revelations and transmutations! Approximately 600km of total unpredictability, heading to the frozen, Arctic ocean, is a place that takes no prisoners and suffers no fools lightly (very similar indeed to the Polar ultra in Greenland).

To run 120 miles alone, in one day on the Therapati trail in Nepal, (which is to the East of the Everest trail), finding directions along often hidden mountain tracks and trails on the Himalayas whilst dealing with earthquake damage, snow, ice, sub zero temperatures, rugged terrain, very few people and altitude issues, forces the mind and body to again be One, as a lapse of concentration spells disaster. Again I suppose the eXtreme Ultras are totally unpredictable and the the four words, Wisdom, Adapt, Change and Overcome must at all times be in the arsenal of the athlete. The Wisdom to intrinsically know what to Do and when to Do it...the difference between life and death really.

Every athlete experiences the various stages of desperation and elation in practically every race. In the Extreme Ultras and Crazy Races, the stages come hard and fast with each new challenge..obstacles, cycling mountains, kayaking, freezing rivers, 15 metre walls, deserts, ice, jungles, mountains, heat, sand, disorientation, hallucinations..........the important issue is the self belief gained through what the Gaelic scholars call 'ciall ceannaithe'...acquired or bought wisdom, which comes from sheer experience. It cannot be acquired from books or scholarly reading..... the Universe provides!

Why do them?... Why not??? We each are given the opportunities in life ..each time be in a Heaven or Hell, which we sometimes create for ourselves, but not always!! If there is a deep itch, then it must be scratched.

To some people, getting out of bed each day or even breathing and existing are their Hell and Back. Whatever that may be for us all, I believe in striving to BE present in every event...the rest is up to the Universe..... so what lies ahead?......who knows but the mind is excited by 'Beyond The Ultimate'. Grand Slam, Intercontinental, Extreme Ultras....the New Eight in Eight Marathons and Ultras.....and some other hidden gems!

So....enjoy.......and remember..Tomorrow NEVER comes...... the Now is all we really have!

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