Meet Baryalai, otherwise known as ‘Ba Ba Man’: Afghan ultrarunner, skyrunning pioneer, and massive Kilian Jornet fan. Baryalai is only one year older than me, but he has lived lifetimes more. From difficult beginnings growing up in a madrasa in Pakistan to his current efforts to start a skyrunning movement in Kabul, his life is nothing short of fascinating.
As an ultrarunner, I rely on frequent massages to help keep the muscles loose and to prevent injury. In my line of work, this means that I have had massages all over the world in many different cultures and contexts. I’ve had some of the best massages of my life on a beach in Borneo, in the ‘Valley of Longevity’ in […]
Some people have wanderlust: literally, a desire to travel and explore. Me? I don’t have wanderlust. I have full-fledged wanderaffairs. And they everything you would imagine affairs would be: intoxicating, exhausting, and a little bit dangerous.
The finish of the Transgrancanaria Race was exactly how I had pictured it would be: stumbling along in front of crowds of people with all the grace of a newborn baby giraffe, grinning giddily with equal measure of relief and delirium. A glorious finish by all accounts. Only it wasn’t the finish – it wasn’t even halfway. It was the […]
The most common advice given to newcomers is to take it easy in the first half in order to save the legs for the quad-busting hills in the second half. This is definitely a smart move and probably the best thing you can do to ensure a good result… I did the opposite. I simply didn’t want to hold back at any point in the race. Ever. I just wanted to burst out of the gates charging forward as fast as I could. I wanted to gasp for air and feel the bottom of my lungs again. I wanted to make my muscles twitch10633824_783090468451839_5966572427575033230_o on climbs in happy misery and stumble down rocks on fatigued legs. I wanted to feel my eyes sting from salty sweat pouring down my face. I wanted to run with reckless abandon, regardless of the consequences.
Getting to the end of 2014 was like finishing an epic ultra. My ears are ringing and my mind is dancing from one fleeting memory to the next, unsure of where to land. Amnesia has set in, softening the edges of the extreme lows and dimming the glare of some of the highs, but I’m left with an overall feeling […]
Hitting The Wall. One minute you’re cruising along, legs pumping rhythmically beneath you, and the next minute you’re brought to a grinding halt. Colours dim, noises quiet, clouds roll in. Your legs start to feel heavy and disconnected from the rest of your body. Your movements become difficult and uncoordinated. Your thoughts turn inwards and your eyes droop downwards. No matter what […]
If there’s one thing that living in a tent in South Sudan will give you, it’s perspective. Oh, and the occasional bout of giardia, but that is a different story that you probably don’t want to hear.
The first time someone called me ‘sporty’ I laughed in their face. Excuse me? Stephanie Case was the opposite of sporty. I tripped over cracks in sidewalks, let out high-pitched shrieks whenever someone threw a ball my way, and refused to do any activity that turned my face red. I used to beg my gym teacher to let me be […]
*Original interview posted on MadAthlete.com. Thanks for the interview, Zandy!* INTERVIEW WITH ULTRARUNNERGIRL, STEPHANIE CASE Zandy Mangold, MA Connects It is impossible to summarize the phenomenon that is Stephanie Case. Hollywood take note – this girl’s life is already worthy of a riveting memoir or feature documentary. We are interviewing Stephanie because she is not only an ultrarunning, stage-racing, Madathlete, but she is also a champion of human rights, a writer and an artist. I met Stephanie while sharing a tent at RacingThePlanet’s 2010, 250km Australia race. A volcanic eruption resulted in many flight cancellations thus causing several runners to miss the race, but not Stephanie Case. She took a train from London to Paris, chartered a taxi from Paris to Madrid, rerouted her flights to Australia through the Middle East and somehow made the start – allbeit sans gaiters. Undeterred, she painstakingly crafted a pair of gaiters out of her buffs, safety pins and spare needles and thread, ultimately finishing as 2nd woman and 8th overall. Her racing resume includes 1st and 2nd places in five 250km multi-day events, including most recently 1st place at the ICE Ultra in Swedish Lapland, which she completed on snowshoes. She has also excelled at single stage races, placing 1st at the Vermont 100 mile endurance race in 2009, 4th at the Ultra Race of Champions in 2011, and 11th female and 163rd overall at the formidable Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc in 2013. […]