Or maybe it's the competition within myself. The fact that I don't run for accolades and that nobody knows whether or not I'll summit the next hill...there is no reward other than the self satisfaction and mental strength that I will draw from completing what I set out to do.
I love the simplicity of running. It's the most organic sport I can think of and almost everyone is born with the potential to do it. It feels like the most natural thing that I do in my life. I can run at any time, in any location and needn't rely on anybody else for satisfaction from my sport. This allows me to maximise time with my family yet still get the pleasure I crave from running.
Exploration has evolved in recent history. People have travelled far and high to achieve great things, once deemed impossible. We have climbed Everest and reached the South Pole but for most of us engrossed in modern life, this will not be contemplated. But there is a world of opportunity just outside the door that will meet the exploratory instinct that surely lies within us all. Running allows me to create a map of my local area, knowing the hills, the woods, the paths, the rivers and the dots which connect them all. I have had some of my finest runs when discovering and experimenting with new trails close to home.
But it's largely just curiosity that draws me to the longer distances. I am deeply intrigued by what we as people are capable of and more specifically what my body may be able to achieve. Boundaries of human endurance are perhaps being redefined more frequently than ever with the likes of Kilian Jornet and his 'Summits of my Life' project or Yiannis Kouros' countless ultra distance/timed efforts. Ever since I completed my first 'long' run back in 2011, I have become fascinated with the limits that we place upon ourselves and ways in which we can push these backwards.
These limits lie within our heads, not our legs. It is the desire and the ability to tap into this mind control that I am only just beginning to learn about. The ups and downs that your head endures over the 100 mile distance could be sufficient to put you off for good. But for me, it only inspires the next challenge as my confidence allows me to dream higher and longer.