rydra_wong: A dancer (Anie Hanauer) crouches in a performance by Candoco. She has a prosthetic arm. (body -- annie)
[personal profile] rydra_wong posting in [community profile] bodies_in_motion
[personal profile] rachelmanija has a review of an article and the documentary about the Barkley Marathons ("the race that eats its young") which segues into a fascinating discussion of why extreme physical challenges can appeal, and what you might want (or not want) to do if you could wave a magic wand and make it possible for you: if you could, would you want to try the Barkley?

[personal profile] rachelmanija: The Barkley Marathons and pushing your limits

I think this might be relevant to many people's interests, and there's already some very interesting discussion happening in the comments.

Date: 2017-01-24 06:12 pm (UTC)
juliet: (Default)
From: [personal profile] juliet
I am not a runner.

But I did used to do long-distance audax bike rides (and might even again, someday). The furthest I did was 620km in 41 hours (the Brian Chapman Memorial, which starts at Chepstow and goes up to Menai and back again, so the length of Wales, twice). I got about 90 min sleep in the middle. By the last 80km stage I was hallucinating slightly; my gears had developed personalities, and I kept seeing imaginary cyclists standing by the road. I was at least still compos mentis enough to look again and see that they weren't there. (For comparison, I've had a kid, and I had a 35 hour labour. I am honestly not certain which, in terms of sheer physical strain, I'd prefer to do again if I had the choice.)

(The year before I only made it about 420km through and then bailed. I also did a much flatter 600km with some friends, starting at Milton Keynes and riding up to -- Lincoln, I think? Somewhere around there. That was less hallucinatory, possibly partly because it had a lot fewer hills so was easier, and partly because I was riding with someone throughout, whereas the BCM I did the last 12 or so hours on my own.)

Friends of mine have ridden Paris-Brest-Paris, which is run every 4 years and is ~1200km over 5 days. People hallucinate a lot. I know someone who took so many caffeine pills that he wound up in hospital for 4 days afterwards with some kind of arrhythmia. He got a few km out of the last? last but one? control, realised that he wasn't going to be able to make it to the next one, turned round again...and then it all becomes a bit of a blur. A local farmer found him and his trike in the ditch, and when asked who he was he told them he was THE MAYOR OF MORTAGNE. (That was the point at which they delivered him to the hospital, I believe...). Another acquaintance hallucinated a king-size mattress in the middle of the road and convinced himself that it wasn't real only because there was no one asleep on it, and he couldn't believe that no one would have wanted a nap.

I kind of want to do PBP, but I'm really not up to speed for it, and I'm not great with sleep dep. 600km is probably my limit, and I'm not wholly sure I'd do that again. But there is something compelling about it -- the utter absurdity of doing that to yourself, for no sensible reason. And while there are many awful parts, there are also wonderful parts, moments when it's all just working, your legs are doing their thing, it suddenly feels easy. And the scenery can be fantastic (it certainly was on the BCM). I remember one point about 450km into the BCM, when I'd gone past the point where I'd bailed the year before, and I was cycling across the top of a hill, in the sunshine, with ponies and rabbits in the fields next to me and no other human beings in sight -- it was one of those perfect moments of timeless joy.

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