With long hair, flowing robes, and a meagre existence which allows swift movement from place to place – these persons could often be found in isolation. Located routinely in the desert or the forest they conduct their lives separated from busyness of the world around them.
Over time and as word of their journeys spread, their fame would grow bringing new devotees who would seek out these wise ones for advice and counsel. While attempting to remain mostly isolated some of these wise ones eventually gain so many disciples that physical solitude became an illusion.
A number of groups formed and disciples gathered together with those of like mind in small groups away from the limelight and hustle and bustle of everyday life. Routinely they would meet to discuss the events of the day, any new insights they had achieved, often in the presence of a meal and beverages.
Many attempts have been made to join this lifestyle throughout history but very few could exhibit the discipline of self needed in diet and focus of mind to reach an ascended state of existence. The ability to go further, push further and reach higher requires a different approach to life including stricter separation from the world, longer spells of silence and solitude along with acts of service such as care for the environment in which they lived.
The truly committed are also bound by the law of work. Where many may not be financially independent, they tend to engage in service industries or be employed part-time in jobs which allow the freedom to travel and train.
The question that now arises is what sort of person are we discussing here? I have two answers in mind.
1. A medieval spiritual hermit.
2. The modern day ultra-runner.
Is it possible that an ultra-runner is the 21st century equivalent of a middle ages hermit? I ask you to consider the descriptions above and consider whether or not the characteristics are actually similar.
Let’s consider a few more similarities in characteristics;
1.The mantra. Many runners have a mantra that they use in their minds when competing. Just as a hermit would offer his mantra as a form of mental discipline so too does the runner use the mantra to keep engaged and focused on the task at hand.
2.Clean living. Could you imagine a hermit ordering takeaway drive through at a KFC store? No, neither can I. And in all honesty I can’t imagine too many ultra-runners choosing to partake of deep fried chicken either.
Now please don’t get me wrong. I’ve met plenty of ultra-runners and I’m yet to meet one who could be called a saint! Because much like the spiritual hermits of centuries ago they too were men and women with behaviours, personalities, hopes, goals and dreams. Just like us. But on the flipside I’ve also met lots of good men and women who have chosen to devote themselves entirely to a sport that to consider their dedication anything less than an act of religious vigour would be to err.
Header image is available as a stock image over here.