There’s always someone madder…


Running around Tooting Bec Common tonight, still bathing in the warm glow of my newly-annointed status of ultrarunner, I remembered that however far you run, however fast you go and however heroic your exploits, there’s always someone madder.

That runner’s got an unusual style, I thought, as a lean fellow came bounding towards me. He was deliberately picking his knees up; his foot placement was similarly deliberate. I looked to his feet. They were bare. Bare, naked feet. Shoeless and sockless. On the dark paths around Tooting Bec Common. On a night when the temperature was hovering at zero.

Madness? Maybe, but hat’s off the man. It’s not often one stops a stranger in London (and I didn’t here), but this is one stranger I’d have like to have stopped. I wonder if he knew about Gurkha Harkbir who was reputed to have run from Sligachan on Skye to the summit of scree-strewn Glamaig, and back, in bare feet – a true bare foot running hero. Wikipedia presents this 19th century story as gospel; Carnethy Hill Running Club, which organises what is now an annual race up Glamaig, is more sceptical. It is the sort of story I want to believe.

As for my run, four-and-a-bit miles (in trainers) felt like an effort. The strain of the 30 miles of the Winter Tanners remains lodged in my legs. I’ve three days to recover until more punishment at the Box Hill Fell Race.

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