So here it is. Day one of my preparation. I don’t know where to start. But I will get into the groove soon enough. People often ask me if I believe I’m addicted to long-distance running. While I can tell you for sure that I am not addicted to running, I can also tell you that I am addicted to the process involved in the preparation and execution of a long run. Another question I often get is if I like subjecting myself to pain. I’m sad to say that I believe I am. Actually, I want to refine my answer. I enjoy the process of reaching the point where I begin to experience a strong degree of suffering, pushing through it and succeeding in reaching my objective. Once I’m done, I get a fantastic release. My stress disappears, my pain fades, my joie de vivre returns and I feel more alive than I was before the run. Don’t get me wrong, the suffering is not in my head. I am very often in excruciating pain. But my mind is what pulls me through. Sometimes, it hurts so much that I feel my conscience splits in half. One part is running a suffering, the other is an observer from above, just like a drone! I can’t explain it. I have experienced this phenomena multiple times. I love the suffering. Not while it occurs, but right after I’m done. It’s transformative. I heard many times people quote « what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger .» I believe the quote should be « what doesn’t kill you makes better .» After each « long » run, I should say « running project », I always run better than before the event. Most people who do not engage in endurance runs like the ones I undertake can’t really understand what I am trying to convey, but if they tried, they’d get it.
So what does suffering have to do with this next running project? Everything! The level of suffering will be epic. Cold, rain, wind, hills, rough roads, loneliness, resource scarcity, you name it, I will go through it. The run is only 1,400 km, but it will be hard. I’m undertaking this project solo, which adds a whole new dimension to the event. Also, I will be in a country where I absolutely don’t talk or understand the language. Oh, yes, and there are polar bears in the wild here!
Preparation will be key. Indeed, I will be packing everything I will need to survive out there. There are camp grounds to spend the night along the way but most nights I will have no other option but to sleep on the road side. This means that I will need camping gear in addition to my running gear and food. And all of this must be packed tight to fit in a running stroller that I can pull or push. But I think the toughest thing will be the wind. Rain+wind+cold is a whole new level of suck!
Back in 2018, while I was preparing to run from Vancouver to Montréal, I had a list of all the things I would need for the event. I will start from that list and make it as minimalistic as possible. I cannot put more than 40 kg in the stroller. Anything more will have to be carried on my back. So I can only move about 60 kg (120 pounds) of stuff. I will need to be very economical about everything. The only thing that will not be a big problem is finding water. There are glacier streams everywhere. That’s clean pure water. But I will still need a water purifier, just in case. There is wild life after all out there!
Nutrition will be a big deal. Running in the cold makes you hungry for calories as you not only burn them for running, but also for keeping warm. I will have to practice eating the same diet in training as in the real thing. Rich, portable and available is the name of the game. There are towns on the way, but what will they have to offer in terms of food? Island is a remote place and everything is expensive! So I will need to bring a lot of stuff with me. That means excess luggage! Also, there are things I must buy there. You cannot bring fuel on a plane. I will need to find fuel for my camping stove, for example. Also, I must find a way to recharge batteries on the go. I must find a solar solution or another option. Maybe something that connects to the wheels and charges a battery pack, like a dynamo. Anyway, everything is a challenge, not just the running! But it’s going to be epic.