TrailRunMag 10.11.2011

They say that psychologists are themselves nuts – that’s what drew them to the profession in the first place. They also say (‘They’ being a powerful collective of super insightful, but faceless intellectuals who sit in judgement upon pretty much everything in life) that trail runners are nuts. Especially the ultra variety.


So put the two factors together and you could say (‘They’ could say) you have someone ripe for having their runners confiscated and being committed to the asylum (isn’t that where all us good trail runners end up anyway?).


So does Bernadette Benson – registered psychologist – need her head read by a few of her non-trail running professional counterparts.


Is she crazy?


It’s the question that has to be asked when you hear that she is, tomorrow, setting off on the Bibbulmun Track in Western Australia, attempting to become the fastest ever person to run the trail from Perth (Kalumunda) to Albany, nearly 1000km of it, in under 19 days.


Nuts or not, one thing is for sure, Bernadette will have plenty of time while trotting to search the inner sanctums of her mind to find the reasons for her attempt.


‘I Love Running’ does not count as a valid reason. We all love running, but this feat will demand more than love. It will demand up to 18 hours of running a day. Check that? Ummmm…run for 18 hours, sleep for four. Hang on, must eat, attend to blisters, pee…make that sleep for three hours. Repeat. 19 times. Preferably less.


It will demand physical and mental exhaustion. It will demand that her body almost eat itself  – muscles that implode, vital systems that scream “enough already!!” And yet still Bernadette will have to keep running.


For what?


Not money (ha! money in trail running? Not likely  – although the Kokoda Challenge in PNG does cough up an impressive $4500US as reported in the latest Edition of Trail Run Mag!).


Fame perhaps? Not unless you count coverage in Trail Run Mag (we’re hoping Bernadette will reveal all about her state of mind post run).


Glory? Yes, there will be a touch of that, but it’s not like Sports Illustrated will have her on the cover (although there is the Canadian link, being an ex-pat…not sure Bernadette’s up from running in a bikini though).


So why Bernadette, why?


INSERT: me badly mimicking Bernadette’s voice in the absence of actually speaking to her, as her phone is off – we’re assuming she’s deep in preparation, counting and recounting her calorie bags, doing the sums and praying to someone, something, somewhere (religious or not).


“Why not? Because it’s there…” my imaginary, Canadian-lilted voice says (although given it’s me mimicking it, my accents always sound Indian).


But then, psychologists are intelligent people, and interesting people, so I would hope that she’d actually avoid the adventure sporting cliché (and the Indian accent) and dig deeper to give us some real insight into what drives people to such extremes.


And let’s face it, digging deep is exactly what Bernadette will need to do if she’s going to finish this mammoth trail run.


Wonder if she’ll find a few nuts at the bottom of that obviously deep well of determination?


Bernadette is being supported by Montane in her attempt to conquer the Bibbulmun. Quickly.