Why live a life that’s perceived as mad?
It’s 3am. I’m surrounded by darkness and a crisp breeze. Goosebumps line my skin, I feel groggy, unmotivated and tired. I lace up my running shoes, as I try to silence the voices in my head: “You’re going running again today? Why so far? Why so long? Why?” . . . . I stare into the darkness, turn on my headlamp, start my watch and go.

I was living a life perceived as mad. My family didn’t understand, most of my friends thought I was crazy, sometimes I didn’t even understand why I running. I didn’t understand until I was out there, moving; when I was feeling the mountain air, listening to my footsteps, breathing and pushing my body forward, it all made sense. All questioning dissipated, it didn’t matter what they thought, what anyone thought, I was in my element, my own world. A runner.

I haven’t always been a runner, let alone an endurance mountain runner. I was on track to a life defined solely by my job, the amount of money I made, the car I drove and the house I lived in. Not a life guided by my passions, providing freedom to dream and pursue goals other than those associated with a job. This transition, to be a mountain runner, an ultrarunner, to a life focused on the outdoors, has been met with skepticism. Most people didn’t understand what I was doing. Why was I running? What was I running from? What was this ‘obsession,’ this gratuitous hobby?

At first I didn’t know. It’s unexplainable and complex; this desire to run extreme distances through technical terrain, over high-mountain passes through unexplored territory. Is it mad? Some days I think it is. When I’m suffering and battling through the pain, the desire to stop, the raw state of my body exposed to the relentless mountain. Is this life mad? No. In fact, it’s the opposite. In these raw moments I find strength. I find the power within myself to continue and face any challenge that comes my way. It’s a feeling, a place where my mind is clear and I am connected with the world, my heart, and my thoughts. It is the place where I feel the most at home in my own skin, where I can challenge myself, learn, grow and become stronger. It’s a deeply personal form of self-exploration, yet it transcends into every aspect of my life, making me better. It’s powerful, rewarding and beautiful. This madness, is not really madness at all, but a steadfast desire, guiding my heart, mind and soul to a greater purpose and belonging.


One Comment

  • Dan says:

    Thank you for writing and sharing this. Sometimes I find it still very difficult to put into words why I desire to run further, higher, faster. Like you, I only discovered this world of ultra / skyrunning a few years ago, but as time has gone past, and especially the challenging moments which have confronted me with what I want to spend the rest of my life doing (after all, time is much more important than money). It has become even clearer that I wouldn’t have it any other way. In extreme moments, people discover who they really are (or at least who they want to be), and running in the mountains for long periods of time has probably taught me more than I could ever imagine. The places you discover (both geographically and psychologically), the memories, the emotions; all of this combines to make ultra / skyrunning such a unique, yet simple activity. While it’s popular in society to live a comfortable, orderly and relatively easy life, I think it’s always been in humans to push boundaries, to embrace the uncomfortable and chaotic nature of life, to enjoy all the emotions of a Shakespearean tragedy. C’est la vie!

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