Death Valley

A couple months ago an old childhood friend died. I don’t know all the circumstances, as he and I had lost touch with each other some years ago. But I did see his sister not long before his death. She said he was well and happy. He’d been a marathon runner for many years.

Was there any connection between his marathon running and his death? I don’t know. Some medical experts say marathon running can actually damage the human heart, rather than making it stronger.

But I do know, from my own younger years, pushing myself beyond all sensible boundaries (which I did often) was at least partly an effort to help me feel good about myself.

Isn’t that the human condition? We have to constantly prove to ourselves (and others) we are worthy.

This morning I read a short news article about some marathon runners who will be racing 135 miles through one of the harshest places on earth — the USA’s Death Valley. Over 3 days, they will start from 280 feet below sea level and end up at 8,300 feet above sea level. Daytime temperatures will be above 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 Celsius). Nighttime temperatures range up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius).

To me, that would be hell on earth.

I have no right to judge the motivation of those runners. And I’m not. But I have to wonder, given my own life experiences, why they are doing this.


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