Epic running into the unknown
In the world of running there are some people who explore running further than just completing a badass ultra marathon. No, were talking about true epic running that might last for a week or even a month. There is no loop, or even a point B. You just run, and you don’t turn back. There is no one waiting for you. You’re all alone and you will have to deal with with what nature and your mind throws at you.
– Running alone in the wilderness evokes strong emotions, says Swedish runner Markus Torgeby when asked to share some thoughts about his project: running the whole Swedish mountain range, approx. 1300Km from north to south.
– Running the mountains forces me to think bigger and plan ahead, since things can go bad. Being all by yourself, carrying only the necessary, far away from roads or settlements you need to trust your instincts and your abilities.
When Markus attempted his hardcore running safari in 2013 he had to stop after 750 kilometres with oedema and inflammation in both feet, and a stress injury. The summer of 2014 he will make another attempt.
– I want to find out if it’s possible.
This summer Janne Marin, a finish ultra runner I met at Tor des Géants 2011, will try to set a speed record on Kungsleden, a famous Swedish trekking route. But it proves difficult to find any registered speed record for the route.
In 1999 while covering Marathon Des Sables I stumbled across ”The Butcher from Fez”; not your typical trail runner if you say so. The butcher was a 70-year old morrocan with silver grey hair, sporting green plastic sandals, a skiing hat, Ray Ban sunglasses and a white robe. With several MDS-finishes under his belt he appearently also had once run from his hometown to the Vatican. That was one of my first assignments for the big running magazine, and one that opened my eyes for “epic running” or “adventure running”. While preparing for the KIMM in 2003 I read about The Bob Graham Round of Fells. And at the Jungle Marathon 2004 I met Kevin Lin, Ray Zahab and Charlie Engle, who later ran across the Sahara, with support crew and media updates from the Atlantic coast to the Nile.
In the world of trail running setting new FKT’s (Fastest Known Time) is a growing phenomena. Here is a link to Adam Chase’s article “Records not Races – Is the pursuit of Fastest Known Times the future of competition?”, published Feb 2013. I have written a piece about it too, due to be published this summer.
If you’re interested in the history of FKT’s you might want to check-up Dave Horton and Ted ”Cave Dog” Keizer and their long list of FKT’s. While their mainly unsponsored feats largely passed unnoticed a decade ago, the situation is different today when professional trail running personalities have become “marketing tools”, and we are fed with elaborate reports and beautiful youtube clips of fresh FKT’s set by a squad of top ultra runners like Kilian Jornet, Jez Bragg, Ryan Sandes, Dakota Jones, Anton Krupicka and Elisabeth Hawker. But this time the lone trail runner is accompanied by a film crew in a helicopter and a chasing media van. Focusing on solo running adventures is only a natural step, since most race formats per definition are void of the alluring unknown or a deeper, more authentic running experience. But the question is: will the true adventure ever be televised?