I’m 30 days away from running my 30th marathon. I only ran my first 3 1/2 years ago. This is crazy. Who am I? Of all people, I can’t believe I am coming up on this milestone. But now that this fire has been flamed, so to speak, it’s hard to contain it. Which is why I’m celebrating this race with a really exciting one, one that I know will be beyond memorable and exciting. Marathon #30 is the Big Five Marathon in the Entabeni Game Reserve in South Africa, where runners take on this challenge with the hopes of seeing the Big Five of African wildlife (lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and black rhinoceros).
This won’t be an easy one; in fact, it may be my most difficult course to date. They tell runners up front that you can expect to be out there at least 25% longer than your typical marathon. Difficult terrain, a giant hill (to go both down and up) and big animals along the way…this sounds crazy! But it also sounds like the chance of a lifetime to enjoy a leisurely exploration of a beautiful setting. I’m not out to break records or win anything, so I might as well enjoy the experience and take a few photos along the way. I am a little nervous about my relative lack of training for this one – both mileage-wise and overall fitness-wise (Cayman is flat, so I have not had any hill training at all). I guess we will see how that shakes out on the day. Reading blogs about the experience makes me question if I can make the cut offs, but I’ll get out there and do my best.
Which brings me to a question I’ve been pondering lately. My interest in marathoning has been waning over the last 6-8 months, and yet I keep signing up for various races. In fact, I have races planned into 2020 already. So why do I do this? What am I running for? The why may change a bit here and there, or overlap with a second – or even third- why. But one thing that has always been an important why for me is to travel and explore this big, amazing world we live in. To meet people from other places and see what they see. More than anything, my why is this opportunity, one that I am trying to take advantage of while I am young, healthy and eager to lace up for long runs in the stifling heat of the Cayman Islands as I plan and prep to make these runs, while not ‘fast’, respectable. My finish time isn’t very important to me; rather, it is the process and option to take hours of my life for something that is a place to think and have time alone. To see the world at a slower pace. To go to places that are not on many tourist maps or ‘must-do’s’ in travel magazines. I’ve visited places that I never would have gone to otherwise.
So I guess I’ll keep running, even if it looks like I am slowing down on how many marathons I do in a year. Because there are always more places to explore, and I want to keep up with an active lifestyle as long as possible. There are always more stories to hear and more cultures to experience. Because one day, I know I won’t be able to do this. So in the meantime, I’ll do as much as I physically can.
Why do you keep going? What motivates you to keep running day after day? Is it the promise of a fast time? A travel experience? I’d love to hear about your ‘why’.