I notice often in the news articles about people who are endeavoring to do some athletic or adventurous feat. Be the first to do something, the youngest to do something else, or achieve some other noteworthy, and often newsworthy, goal. The feats require effort, perseverance, and preparation. But I sometimes end up with a slightly uncomfortable feeling about why the person is so hell-bent on the goal in the first place. I’m all for adventure. But for adventure’s sake. And when there’s a lot of hoopla around the effort, I can’t help but wonder… would that person still do it if there was no press, no fame, no book deal, no speaking engagements to be had in the end, and if nobody was going to know they’d even done it? Much of what dominates the news, these days, is election hype, political maneuvering, and the stories of people bent on wealth, power, or personal fame.
Then I asked… would I still do it?
Would I do the same run not because there was fame or achievement or a great book deal in it for me, but because I wanted to achieve something of value in itself?
Would I do it even if nobody would know about it? If I had to keep it a secret after finishing it, would I still do it?
I am absolutely comfortable to say that the answer is “yes”.
I want to make this blog not about me but about those helping, participating, and having a great time doing it. I want to make money not for myself but for EdenInAfrica.org and a fabulous person that dedicated herself to another cause that many would call “lost”.
Fame is one the most elusive and treacherous things to have, when it is pursued as a goal. And in a field like ultrarunning, fame seems to be even more elusive than anywhere else. Just finding information about other people that did runs across America was difficult enough. Checking their fundraising results was a major revelation: Very few raised more money than they spent doing the run itself. Of many that tried you can certainly pick up a case or two that had major marketing and PR teams behind it and well… they didn’t even finish their runs. If you look at their following on Tweeter just a few days after their run is done you will be surprised to see most of them back down at 3 digit numbers.
No matter what the goal, outcome, or hype, the fame that arises from most accomplishments rarely lasts. Ironically, the moments and people we remember best are often those who don’t even succeed.
“… Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense. The ultra runners know this instinctively. And they know something else that is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being – a call that asks who they are…” – David Blaikie (Former journalist; Athletics Historian and Statistician. Founding Member of the Association of Road Racing Statisticians. Former President of the Association of Canadian Ultrarunners.)