Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Running bucket lists
Although I'm obviously focused on the next race coming up (UROC 100k, in this case), I get a bit restless when I haven't got plenty of interesting challenges coming up. I learned after my first Marathon des Sables that it's good to have stuff to look forward to after a large challenge that occupies your mind and training for a long period of time. Otherwise, you (or I, at least) get back post-race and feel on a bit of a downer after such a great high.
Anyway, the reason for this post is I was just offered a spot in the largest ultra in South America (so they say - I haven't checked and am not very familiar with the choices down there), the North Face Ultramaraton de los Andes in Chile. Generally it's a good day when someone sends me an email to offer me a spot in a race, but this one sounds particularly cool for several reasons.
Firstly, Hal Koerner and Sean Meissner both ran it last year and seem to have very high opinions of it. Secondly, it's a very hard course what what I can see. But it's the third fact that has a slightly absurd appeal to me - that it's in a country and continent I've not been to and, importantly, not raced in.
There's something about racing on all seven continents that appeals to me, and to many others, although for the sake of a bucket list I don't feel the need to just waste tens of thousands of dollars on a trip to the Antarctic to do a race that may not even happen (sometimes the weather's too bad and the races end up being laps of the ship they travel on). However, if someone else paid for it...
Europe and North America are places where I've run plenty of marathons and ultras and covered many of the countries on both continents. In Africa I've raced one marathon and several ultras. Asia has been just one marathon (Fukuoka, Japan) and two adventure races (2x Kinabalu Challenge in Malaysian Borneo).
For years I've had Australasia and South America on my running to do list and I've never even traveled to anywhere in South America. I should probably point out that I'm almost as addicted to traveling as to racing so when I get to combine both it's especially fun. And I've made a point of doing so.
So it got me thinking about bucket lists and other arbitrary lists. I know plenty of runners (more likely than your average person to be a type A personality) who obsess about seeming pointless targets and lists and I have some of my own too. Here are a few examples from others I can think of then I'll list my own targets.
1. Running a marathon in every US State (surely after half of the States it just becomes list-focused rather than picking events that are genuinely interesting).
2. Running a marathon in every UK county (ditto).
3. Running a marathon on every continent (I'm happy to leave off Antarctica, but otherwise a good excuse to see the world).
4. Most sub 3:15 marathons in the world.
I think you get the point. There's an element of wanting to 'collect' these achievements and it can add fun and an additional challenge to the races.
My own lists are as follows and may seem unusual but add fun to my races but I'm not referring to targets like 'win this' or 'qualify for that', just additional stuff that helps me to select my races.
1. Sub 2:45 marathon on the six continents excluding Antarctica (currently only NA, Europe and Asia done) - odd time to choose but it's the London marathon Championship start qualification time. Look, it made sense when I started doing it, ok?
2. Run 100 sub 2:45 marathons (related to the last one). Currently I'm on 16, plus one 50k at that pace. I think that's rough half a year of Mike Wardian's schedule, except his target could be 2:30 :)
3. Hit every marathon minute under the Boston qualifying time (currently 3:10:59 but changing to five minutes quicker from 2013). I've hit every minute down to 2:35 so far, plus 2:33 and 2:32 and justify this as training myself to run at a variety of paces very evenly, plus it's generally more fun in a training marathon to have a specific target instead of just jogging off at sub-race pace. However, a pet peeve for me is any course where the final 0.2 miles is out (surprisingly many) as this had led to some ridiculous sprints to hit a time when I thought I was spot on for pacing. Not missed one yet, though.
4. Race in as many countries as possible (currently about 29 but I haven't added a new country since 2009).
5. Run the classic global ultras, which I define for this as the most prominent and historic ultras of each type in my subjective opinion: Marathon des Sables (multi-day, desert), Transalpine Race (multiday, mountains), Western States 100 (100 miler), Comrades (road), London to Brighton (road), Two Oceans (road), Spartathlon (road, extra long) and UTMB (100 miler new boy). Maybe Badwater is part of that list, but if so, I'm happy to tick it off having crewed there. And the only other two left for me are the Spartathlon and UTMB. However, I have a to-do list of countless other races, like anyone else, but these are the big daddies to me.
My lists aren't any 'better' than anyone else's but the thought of running in South America next month just got me thinking about them. Some of those targets are more from when I mainly did road marathons, but I still love those and still aim to keep doing them.
What unusual (weird?) targets do you have? If I like the sound of them I'll probably adopt them for myself too.