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New year resolutions – Ultra Marathon

Tom Blackett   |  26/12/2016

I am not an expert ultra marathon runner, nor expert marathon runner for that matter, however on July 29th, 2017, I will be attempting to complete a 100 mile race in 26 hours – the toughest fitness challenge I have ever attempted.  Given that we are approaching new years resolution season, I figured I’d share with you why I’m aiming to complete such a difficult event.

My initial inspiration came from a recent Netflix documentary covering “The Barkley Marathons” which many consider to be the hardest endurance race on the planet.  It consists of five 20 mile laps through rugged Tennessee territory, although many believe the race to be 130 miles as the route was changed a few years ago and no miles were added (it’s organised by a crazy Tennessee local who seemingly forgot to change the mileage).  Very few have even finished the race as it not only requires a 100/130 mile trek, but across that distance you also ascend and descend the equivalent of Mount Everest, TWICE, and it all must be done in under 60 hours! So it’s hardly surprising that most give up after the first lap.  However against all the odds a few absolute heroes managed to finish – a truly amazing feat.  I was honestly in absolute awe of the few who managed to cross the line.  Just think about it, 60 hours of non-stop movement through some of the toughest terrain the world has to offer, with no sleep! Oh and the course isn’t marked out either, so you have to prove you’ve been to every checkpoint by finding a book and tearing out a specific page – ludicrous!

Instead of sitting from the comfort of my sofa and muttering under my breath “I probably could do that” (like guys do) I have for the first time decided to really put my money where my mouth is.  Because, whilst I’m pretty fit, I know my fitness will only carry me so far and my mental strength will be what pushes me past the finish line.  And again, whilst I think I’m mentally robust – how can I be sure unless I really test myself?  Well I think New Year resolutions are all about just that! Testing yourself!

To be honest, the older I get, the more I think it’s important to get out of one’s comfort zone – I think it makes us appreciate the good times and even normal times more, and isn’t that what life’s all about?  I truly believe that if I have the discipline to train and complete a 100 mile race; life after the finish line will be better.  Now unfortunately I won’t be competing in the Barkley Marathons as there is a full application process that you need to get through to even be considered, and this includes writing an essay as to why you think you’re appropriate! (Because climbing Everest twice and not stopping for 60 hours isn’t hard enough…) So I will be competing in the Grim Reaper Ultra marathon, a 100 mile race at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincoln.  If I complete this, then perhaps I’ll consider entering The Barkley next year.. but that’s a thought for another day.

So, stay inspired, set yourself some challenges for next year and don’t be afraid to fail; testing yourself from time to time is simply one of the best things we can do.

Good luck everyone!