Tunnel vision helps as ultra runners enter dark side

Runners pose for a photo after ‘The Tunnel’, a 200-mile (322 km) run inside Combidown Tunnel in September 2021 in Bath, UK. — Reuters

For Ultra The runnersTunnel vision is a useful thing to have and for those dealing with one of the UK’s most extreme events later this month, it’s a necessity.

For 55 hours, an intrepid group of about 40 the player The mile-long former railway tunnel on the edge of Bath will run 200 times the length — in the dark.

The event, known simply as ‘The Tunnel’, was created by former ultrarunner Mark Cockbean for those for whom mental and physical exhaustion is like candy to a child.

“There are a lot of ultra events where everybody shows up, everybody moves and everybody goes home with a medal,” Kokbein, who has run ultras in the Himalayas, the Arctic and Death Valley, told Reuters.

“I wanted to come up with events that are very hard to finish but if you finish you will remember it for the rest of your life.”

Electronics engineer Cockbean said he was looking for a race with an ‘X-factor’ and the Combi Down Tunnel provided it.

Described on the official website as “a mind-bending test of extreme endurance and sensory deprivation”, the tunnel is only open to the toughest ultras who have run 100 miles.

This year’s event starts at 3.30 pm on March 31 and ends 55 hours later, spanning two nights. Only water and basic snacks are provided with runners wearing highways kit, whistles and head torches. People who don’t make 100 miles in 27 hours are out.

For most of the event, runners will be alone in the dark with only their head torches illuminating the course. Listening to music through headphones is prohibited to break the monotony.

Since it began in 2019, only 14 people have completed The Tunnel — many succumbing to exhaustion and some, according to Cockbean, losing their marbles.

“A French guy who’s a famous ultrarunner said it was scary,” Cockbein recalls. “The other night he had a really bad hallucination and you could tell he lost it a little bit. He was just talking nonsense.”

Ultrarunning is, basically, more of anything Marathon is gaining popularity. But what is the appeal?

Vic Izzy Owens knows a thing or two about extreme running. He completed a non-stop run of 253 miles down the length of Wales. She also set the world record for the longest barefoot run by a woman in 24 hours, covering a distance of 96.4 miles.

But she met her match at The Tunnel in 2021 and will make a second attempt to complete it.

“You’re out there alone, fighting the darkest times for miles, stripped back to the very essence of your humanity,” she says.

“The tunnel is a mental battle. I’m going back and I’m ready to give it my all, and ready to accept every mental breakdown that will hit me again and again.”

Some previous entries speak of severe delusions. Ex-military driver Carl Baxter, aiming to complete it a second time, describes it in terrifying terms.

“I saw a family of hideous snowmen by the side of a wall, clinging to it,” he said. “Then a huge slug came towards me with a cigarette in his mouth.”

For others, it’s not so painful.

Builder Brandon Turner said he ate so many sugary snacks it was like running through dozens of children’s parties.

“I don’t really know why we do this,” he told Reuters. “For me, the dark side of it never got to me, I’m used to my own company, I’ve run a lot by myself, I work by myself.

“I really lived on pot noodles, Jaffa cake and Pringles.

Falling asleep isn’t an option either, says Turner, who nods while driving through the tunnel and is completely unconscious and doesn’t know which direction he’s going.

Like all ultrarunners, though, he said any discomfort is soon forgotten as he looks for the next fix.

“It’s a big anti-climax a week after you do one,” she said. “When you sign up for the next race.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *