Putting the reality out there
A phone call to New York puts the frighteners on me, and gets me upping my training
I got a slightly ominous sounding message via Instagram the other day asking me to call the organisers of the Self-Transcendence 3100 in New York, as they wanted to talk to me. So far they’ve told me via email that I can have a place in the race, but there is no official entry form that you get to fill in and get a nice little “Entry confirmed” email in reply. They’d talked to me before about the need to do a six-day race first, to show I had what it took to survive a multi-day ultra. Initially they said I’d need to run over 430 miles in six days, but then, more recently, when I asked for confirmation as to whether that was a hard and fast qualifying mark, they were more relaxed and said that “as long as I wasn’t in the low 300s” I’d be fine.
I didn’t give it much more thought. Really, the numbers are hard to grapple with. Extrapolating your potential in ultras from your times in shorter races doesn’t really work. Like to run 100 miles in 24 hours, you need to run roughly four marathons back to back, each in about six hours. Put like that, it sounds fairly easy for someone like me, who has run a marathon in 2 hours 50 minutes. But I know from painful experience that you get so tired you get to a point where running even 5km in an hour becomes extremely tough. In fact, just moving and not sitting down is tough. And that’s in a 24-hour race. So who knows what happens after six days, or 20 days.
I called the race organiser in New York on a fuzzy landline. He listened as I told him how excited I was to be on this journey. He didn’t sound that excited on the other end of the phone, however. In fact, he sounded concerned. Did I really think I could run the 3100 without running a 10-day race first? Didn’t I think I should put it off for another year? He seemed to be throwing tacks on the track.