Writing and running are solitary experiences, and as such have much in common. For twelve months from the summer of 2008 I hid away running up to 120 miles a week in preparation for the Spartathlon, the world’s toughest endurance race. Covering 152 miles, non-stop, from Athens to Sparta, it attracts the best ultra-distance runners in the world.
I have been running marathons for ten years but have never got around 26.2 miles faster than 3 hours 12 minutes. If I could not run fast, I wondered how far I could run. A long way, as it turns out.
At some stage in those ten years I started to ask why I run, why in fact so many of us – millions around the world – run at all. The journey to the Spartathlon became a search for an answer to that question.