By Bruce Greenhalgh
I have a confession. I don’t really understand gravity. Oh, I know the basics, what goes up must come down, why the apple fell on Isaac Newton’s head, all that stuff. What I don’t understand is why gravity works in such an exaggerated fashion. Let me explain by reference to the ‘Stirling Pump’ 4-hour rogaine. As the record number of participants will attest, the Stirling area affords gravity plenty of opportunity to strut its stuff. The terrain is, to put it mildly, hilly. I can’t recall a truly flat section anywhere on the course. When I was running downhill this was fine. Good, in fact, and I found myself thinking, ‘I can run for four hours. It’s not that hard.’ Unfortunately, when the road or track turned upwards my thoughts ran (at least something was running) along the lines of, ‘Will this climb ever end? I can’t take much more of this.’ It’s such a complete and extreme change in what I experience that it challenges my comprehension. I can appreciate that gravity can help or hinder, I don’t get why it does so in such a dramatic way.
Another thing I don’t fully understand is time: how its passage is so variable. For example, take the five or ten minutes before the start of a rogaine when everybody assembles and last-minute instructions are given. Time almost stands still. At Stirling, the course setter, Guy Schubert, did his best to make the time pass, but no mere mortal can change this phenomenon. Conversely, as soon as the rogaine starts, time begins leaking away faster than water from a Camelbak bladder whose top hasn’t been properly tightened.