the hardest race


Be faithful to that which exists within yourself‘.

I was just asked to write a short piece on ‘the hardest race’.
It made me think a little ….The hardest race, the toughest race? How can I explain?  Could it have been my first race as an adult, a marathon at the age of 24? I knew nothing of what to expect and I had little time to prepare only having been home for about six weeks after being at sea working for two months on a research cruise in the Antarctic…
Knowing little of what to expect seems to have been my ‘trademark’ as I went on to compete in my first ultra, my first 100km race, my first mountain trail race ….. But then as the unknown became known the races became hard in a different way – living with my own hopes and expectations.Or perhaps the hardest race is the race you don’t run when last minute injury renders those hopes and expectations meaningless?
Or could it have been just last weekend – a very different race – this time ‘running’ on skis instead of on foot? It was my first ski-alpinism race, a relentless ascent of 1500m. I was daunted by the prospect yet again of the unknown but inspired by the beauty of dusk falling in a clear mountain sky ….
But what is gone is gone, the past is just a memory. It is the ‘now’ that we have to live with. So I think for me it is ‘today’s’ race that is the toughest. Whether that ‘race’ is a competition, a training run, or even a ‘non-run’ when injured.
Living with your own hopes, doubts and aspirations.
Living with the contradictions of having to plan ahead while living in the moment.
Giving your best, making it count.
Realising that, race or no race, there is no victory, no reward except the joy you are living while you are ‘dancing your run’1.

1 Fred Rohe in ‘The Zen of Running’

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