Aesop lived in Samos, something over 25 centuries ago - but some things never change.
Right near the end of the race, on the last day, a man with a camera at his shoulder approached me as I shuffled along my last few laps. ‘They tell me you are a treasure-trove,’ he began, and proceeded to try to extract some gem-like insights from me.
There is something disconcerting about facing a camera during an ultra-race. It happened to me once before when I famously embarrassed myself on national television in New Zealand being interviewed in the middle of the night while limping down the track in a 24-hour race, my stripey balaclava all askew.
So, disconcerted, I had nothing particularly inspiring to say. After a while he asked me what the highlight of my ten-day race had been. There was only one thing that sprang to mind - not some profound spiritual insight that I had had, not some lofty experience, not some moment of delighted camaraderie, not a deep sense of oneness with the world. Without hesitation I said - “I saw a turtle.”
It was a very cool little turtle that I saw.
There were several New Zealanders running the concurrent 6-day race. The helper of one of them found the turtle. She stopped me on my way through the camp to show it to me. We benighted Kiwis had never seen such a thing. It was about the size of a New Zealand fifty-cent piece. It was grey all over and it had tiny little feet with tiny little claws on the end of each of its toes.
He was a delightful little fellow.
And though I might never have seen a turtle before, had we not all been raised on stories of turtles and tortoises? And we all knew what the moral of those stories was . . . the slow guy wins.
Links:The Self-Transcendence Ten Day Race was founded by Sri Chinmoy
Details of the race - results, photo galleries and such like - can be found at the race webpage - 2006 Self-Transcendence 6 & 10 Day Races
It turns out that while I was busy running, other people were busy photographing turtles. To see the actual turtle, refer to Plabita Butler's page