Saturday 20 December 2014


How the hell do you avoid scaring the crap out of other people when you're running? I managed to scare some dude out walking his dog this morning - twice. Once on the way out, then again on the way back. You'd think he'd have had his wits about him the second time, but hey ho. I gave him a friendly shout of "morning" when I was about 10 meters away so that he wasn't suddenly confronted with a smelly, panting mess bearing down on him. But that just meant he was scared shitless a few seconds earlier.

So what can you do avoid the (perfectly reasonable) response of abject terror from people that you pass out on the trail? What warning methods can be used to announce your presence in a nice calming way that doesn't make you look like a psychopath heading for them at speed?

In the middle of the night, it's not so bad. There are very few people about, usually your headtorch is a good pre-emotive warning, and by that point in a race I'm usually coughing loudly enough to be heard from a long way off. In the mornings there are a lot more dog walkers about, but I feel like they are more likely to expect random idiots skipping past them. But the evening is my most worrying time, as it must be pretty terrifying to hear footsteps quickly approaching from behind. I try shouting, "Don't worry, I'm not a murderer!", but that just seems to make things worse for some reason.

You just can't win with some people.

Coughing doesn't work. Saying, "Approaching on your left/right" doesn't work. Shouting, "Don't be scared!" doesn't work. Singing Meatloaf songs at the top of my lungs doesn't work (well, it warns them, but they usually aren't happy about it). Maybe I should just install some kind of siren system in my running pack?

If there's a good way to avoid scaring the bejesus out of fellow trail users I am yet to find it. I guess I'll just have to get to used to people being upset when they see me. But hey, I've had 32 years to get used to that.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

What the Hell is an Ultramarathon Anyway?!

The phrase "ultramarathon" is gradually becoming a more ubiquitous term even amongst the non-initiated, as the sport gains more traction throughout the world. And yet, despite this, the term is still not particularly well understood, even by those seemingly in the know. So just what in the name of Satan's Hokas is an "ultramarathon" when it's at home?

You would think that it would be a pretty simple question to answer. Here's what has to say on the matter:

Ultra- [uhl-tra]
  1. a prefix occurring originally in loanwords from Latin, with the basic meaning “on the far side of, beyond.” In relation to the base to which it is prefixed, ultra-, has the senses “located beyond, on the far side of” ( ultramontane; ultraviolet), “carrying to the furthest degree possible, on the fringe of” ( ultraleft; ultramodern), “extremely” ( ultralight); nouns to which it is added denote, in general, objects, properties, phenomena, etc., that surpass customary norms, or instruments designed to produce or deal with such things ( ultramicroscope; ultrasound; ultrastructure).
Marathon [mar-uh-thun]
  1. a foot race over a course measuring 26 mi. 385 yards (42 km 195 meters).
  2. any long-distance race.
  3. any contest, event, or the like, of great, or greater than normal, length or duration or requiring exceptional endurance: e.g. a dance marathon; a sales marathon.