Modern Man

I used to be a runner. Back in my school days I was a champion long distance runner with a swag of medals, ribbons and trophies and a fetish for new running shoes. I wasn't so good in the sprints, but over 800 or 1500 metres or cross country events up to five kilometres, there were few who could keep up with me.

Like most kids growing up in Melbourne, I spent endless hours playing 'kick-to-kick' (the social version of Aussie rules) and backyard cricket. But I was never really into organised team sports. Running was something I could do on my own and still be recognised in the all-important domain of 'sporting achievements' by my peers.

But somewhere in my mid-teens I discovered girls and rock 'n roll and pretty much lost interest in sport for the next 20 years.

Until a couple of years ago when I realised I needed to get active to have even half a chance of keeping up with my kids and to avoid becoming another tragic health statistic. So I started going to a couple of bootcamp style classes and discovered I could still run.

The memory of it was embedded somewhere deep in my molecular structure. The muscles seemed to remember what to do; my breath flowed fairly easily and my legs responded to the challenge.

Now I regularly run six kilometres in around 26 minutes and have been recruited into participating in a triathlon later in the year with two friends who will do the swimming and the cycling, while I will do the 10-kilometre run. This is further than I have ever run before and the thought scares me.

But I have just read about an Australian man, Pat Farmer, who has completed a 20,000 kilometre run from the North Pole to the South Pole. It took him nine months - running through the Arctic, North America, South America and across Antarctica, averaging an incredible 80 kilometres a day!

He did it to raise money for the Red Cross and because "no-one had ever done it before".

I was absolutely staggered by what he had done as I read about his incredible journey. Professional marathon runners require months between events to recover, but here's Pat, casually running two marathons a day across deserts and through sub-zero temperatures.

Hats off to him, though it makes my goal of 10 kilometres seem a bit pathetic.

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