June 13, 2019 (8:15 am)
2018 was the year I tested the concept. Am I able to run back-to-back marathons? Can I run solo, unsupported, carry my own gear, be self-sufficient? And enjoy it?
I started timidly and built up progressively.
Accompanied by two friends, on bike and car, I headed off to Port Dickson, Malaysia, and set out to run 2 marathons back-to-back, Saturday and Sunday in a straight line towards Malacca. Having friends by my side was not only comforting but also a major help. Food, drinks aplenty, ice cold water as I needed, they encouraged me to take coffee breaks along the way and provided a most welcome company and protection from traffic. The weekend went well though I struggled with hydration on the later part of day 2 as the heat got quite brutal. I was back at work the next day feeling great. But I learnt my first lesson on back to back marathons: I cannot afford to let a debt build up, especially one like dehydration.
Solo, I set out to run around the island of Singapore, 120km or 3 marathons in 3 days. I run solo but have the comfort of grabbing a taxi back to my home after each run, and rest in the comfort of an aircon room with prepared meals ready at hand. I started every morning around 4am to avoid running under the direct sunlight, but it was still sticky hot and humid as Singapore is. Once again I held up pretty well and was back at work the next day feeling absolutely fine.
June, July, September 2018
Solo, unsupported and carrying my own gear, I set out to run 3 separate trips of 120km in 3 days around Perth and Darwin in Australia. I used for the first time a push-buggy (BoB) to carry my camping gear, clothing, electronic equipment, food and water. Perth offers awesome possibilities for running. I ended up running on trails, along the Golden Pipeline, the old Railway trail, the Mundaring Forest but also the magnificent Yanchep National Park, Joondalup Lake, and the coastal road. Darwin turned out to be much more of an unforgiving climate, with temperatures above 40 Celsius (real feel would have been close to 50 Celsius). These trips were a major step up in my preparation. Running on my own in a vast foreign land, having to navigate and set camp in places unknown. I only wish I could take more time off work and test my endurance over much longer periods of time.
Finally able to get free time from work, I set off to Australia for 9 days, over Christmas and New Year, and ran 8 marathons back to back. The loop of 320km goes South of Perth towards Mandurah, East towards Dandallup then North to Jondalup and back to Cottlesloe on the West Coast. The runs went amazingly well. I was awake every day before the alarm went off, eager to get on the road, I enjoyed the landscapes, the wildlife, the loneliness and the occasional encouragement. I knew I could keep going much longer, I felt refreshed every morning, with no signs of fatigue and I took immense pleasure from the adventure. I wish I could have just kept going.
These 6 trips added up to approximately 22 marathons. On top of it I made sure to increase my weekly mileage progressively, using my commute to/from work as much as possible.
2018 has been a breakthrough: my project of running around the world got very real. I can indeed, run back to-back marathons, and not only run them but also get a mighty kick out of it. I love being on the road, I enjoy the moments of loneliness as well as the unexpected encounters with strangers, exchanging a few words, sharing some stories, getting some support and encouragement when I expect it least. I have found a pace, slow and easy, with low impact strides, that is suited for long and repeated runs, which feel very comfortable.