Is running about social media or running?

Why do you race?

  1. Are you looking to achieve new goals?
  2. Are you looking to enhance your life?
  3. Are you looking to push yourself to a limit?

Maybe, it is all those things….

However, racing (and life) today is very different to say just 5-years ago. Social media has changed all that. Our lives are shared daily, hourly or by the minute in some cases.

Is racing about ‘the selfie?’

Mariepaule Pierson here takes a look at the ‘race report’ and provides an enlightening insight into why we run…. THE BLOG!

Dear friends and Facebook followers, I cannot thank you enough for the support you have provided me in my times of need, as this mostly faithful account will show.

As you know, I attempted the infamous Parish Walk on a remote Island of the Irish Sea, cut off from all civilisation for as much as 2 or 3 days a year when the weather is more adverse than an English summer. Their flag is a mess of three human legs, quartered and reassembled in a grotesque spurred star; at least I knew the score, should I fail to finish.


Bracing myself for the task ahead, involving a trip to Gatwick in the not-so-early hours of Friday morning, I just made it in time on the pavement outside my house, amazed by the sheer strength of human resilience so early into the day before a race event. Luckily, I still had Wi-Fi connection and hypothermia was only just a mere possibility on the scale of unlikely disasters ahead.

As soon as the car arrived, I felt a surge of gratitude. My lack of training had not been in vain. Here I was, stepping in the front passenger seat, treated like a VIP even before proving my worth over the coming days, while three brave athletes were narrowly confined on the backseat, feeble squashed morning thoracic cages sacrificing their airspace for my comfort. As you, my trusted FB friends, know it well, this kind of incredible support you can get from complete strangers is what life is all about, the likes and encouragement messages without which hardly any one save the hardest hardened survivor can even consider doing any sporting event at all.

In any case, we reached Gatwick, and thereupon, the Isle of Man. Digging very deep within myself, and in spite of the absence of blisters or joint pain, or even the dreaded dehydration which is so prevalent on low cost airlines, I made it to the luggage reclaim and we piled up in the car, this time using every bit of mental strength remaining to take my place in the rear seat. In such conditions, when team work is essential for survival, it is the unconditional support of one’s fellow compatriots, even though we were in effect not far from asylum seekers from three different countries, which sustains one.


The traversée of the Island was no mean feat. The 10 miles from the airport to Peel, with luggage in tow, as well as the necessary water, food and supplies for the Parish Walk the following day and night, were only achieved thanks to the clarity of mind and sharpness of spirit of our driver, who, well ensconced at the wheel, allowed us a little detour via Snaefell, the highest mountain and the (only) summit higher than 2,000 feet on the Isle of Man, at 2,034 feet above sea level. The summit is crowned by a railway station, cafe and several communications masts. And, let’s add for the sake of accuracy, by a statue of Joey Dunlop, motorcyclist icon who won the Isle of Man TT 26 times. My poor suffering knees will bear witness of the truth of this brutal ascent. Grass, sheep, even a cloud, nothing would stop us from reaching the café at the top, and we gave it our all, throwing caution to the air and risking everything for the foggy lack of breath-taking view, limbs screaming for relief, hands numb from the unforgiving dampness of the wind… this will be a loosening up stroll I will never forget.

I agree, I hadn’t trained enough. My fault entirely. Only on small occasions had I managed a whole day without internet, and had not done a multiday event in months. God knows where I found the inner strength to stay nearly a whole day and a half without social media, but sometimes the unsurmountable difficulty, the exhaustion, the grandiose scenery, make you forget all your misery for a last surge of raging resolve. The hotel didn’t have Wi-Fi and the island, although a financial tax haven, on a purely telecom basis, is inhospitable and social media averse. We decided on the sheer shock of the revelation, to gather our resources and share our remaining data. Eyes sore from straining on tiny screens, fingers swollen to twice their size and numb from typing digits and letters, neck and shoulders in need of deep tissue massage from the relentless effort of looking down on our devices, oh the pain and mental blistering. But it was all worth it. We were connected! We could all sit at the breakfast table the next morning, typing to each other via our mobiles, communication restored! I had felt so alone, but the memories of those dark times are fading in the light of the amazing connectedness we all felt. Thank you again, my FB friends, for your likes and oohs and aahs and wonders and words of encouragement and congratulations. This would not have been possible without your faithful and deep addiction to other people’s news feed.

The next day was the 85 miles’ parish walk, then we flew back to London without incident.

We would love your feedback. Let us know does this post ring true for you, are you the blogger, are you the reader, are you the participant….

Why do you run?

Feedback on Talk Ultra

Image by Bryon Powell from iRunFar

Always nice to blow our own trumpet sometimes…. here are a few comments that I have received. Just a small section. You wouldn’t believe how many I get and believe me, I value every single one! Keep them coming!

  • “Making my way through the Transvulcania show which is awesome by the way. Really wanted to express my appreciation for what you have gone through the past few weeks in covering that race and Zegama. The sport is going through quite a transition right now and it’s guys like you that are really helping in keeping us connected with the Ultra community and bringing a greater awareness to the sport.” David McMilan, Colorado
  • “I have been listening to your last episode while driving from the last couple of days ( yes I drove short in city, yes the show is not short:)). It is a great episode, this morning I finished up to Niandi’s dad. I had drove for a run before a meeting and with the motivation My 6k relaxation run turned into a 10k coastal trail.” Caner Odabasoglu, Istanbul
  • “Just want to start off by saying thanks for starting Talk Ultra. It’s a great show and opened my eyes to a level of running that I can barely imagine but have decided to try and do, if only once in my life. I was going to email to ask about a few things (nutrition and pacing mainly) during ultra training runs, but you kinda covered it in some perfectly timed talk-training episodes; so I thought I’d email anyway to thank you and to say I hope to be ‘one of you’ soon.” Matt East, UK
  • “Talk Ultra is definitely keeping me motivated because it’s a scene I want to be a part of. I’m enjoying learning more about the personalities at the sharp end and the training episodes are covering the things that occur to me to ask about. My favourite bit is the ’15 minutes of fame’. Episode 3 with Mark Cockbain was an amazing listen. I don’t really know of anyone to offer up for 15 minutes of fame, maybe I will meet someone suitable soon though.” WS, UK
  • “I’d like to say how thrilled I was to hear your podcast.  It really is a mixture of fascinating features.  I have loved all of it so far.” Chris Peach, UK
  • “LOVE the show. Fantastic.  Ryan Sandes great to hear first off.  I did Racing the Planet Nepal with him in Nov.  Great and very unassuming guy.  as for Gordy … hilarious!  I only wish they were more often than fortnightly …” Tori Leckie, Saudi Arabia
  • “Let me say how much I love your podcasts they have been an inspiration to me to keep on running and training.” Lesley Vernon, USA
  • “Your podcast is going to be a great education and training tool for me as I plan the rest of this year and select goals for 2013. Great work guys!” Matt Cawood, UK
  • “Loving the podcast guys, crossing over from sprint triathlon but thinking about my first Ultra! Keep up the good work.” Gary Hill
  • “Enjoying listening to the podcasts – beats listening to music on the long runs” Ross, Australia
  • “I have listened to all your shows. Love it. Am an expat living in Singapore. Been in Asia 22 years and spent many years running and living in HK. Great to hear of Ryan Sandes win there. Just listened to your Dave Horton interview. A real inspiration and great interview. Ultra starting to take off in Singapore slowly.  Anyway love your show, keep it going and will update you guys with any news in the Ultra world from Singapore.” Ned Philips, Singapore
Great to get these folks! Keep them coming.