Although this site is mostly about ordinary people who overcome personal fitness and athletic challenges, I like to mention some extra-ordinary athletes who can serve as great inspirations for all of us.

Running is a simple sport—even children can go through the motions—but doing it many hours or quickly is what tests our skill, physical endurance and mental discipline. I never ran more than seven miles in a local road race, so marathoners who cover 26 miles earn my admiration easily.

Here is an article about marathoners who want to increase the difficulty of their runs, so they cover 26 miles or more going up hills or mountains, sometimes on dirt trails, rather than asphalt roads. “Along the way (of the Mount Lemmon Marathon in Tucson, AZ) were not just mile markers but altitude signs showing runners that they were climbing, from about 3,000 feet above sea level at the start to more than 8,000 feet at the finish line.

“Whether it is the toughest race is open to debate. The Pikes Peak Marathon climbs over 7,700 feet to the top of the 14,115-foot mountain in Colorado, and it passes not over pavement but dirt tracks, rocks and other obstacles. The Everest Marathon is certainly no slouch. And there is the Antarctic Ice Marathon, in which participants crunch atop snow and ice.

“…One of those finishing near the top of the pack was Jordan Camastro, 27, who lives near the mountain. He is running a 100-mile race this coming weekend and used the uphill marathon as training.

“Once you conquer a regular marathon, you’re left with a longing for more,” he said. “You reach a limit and then you push further. You reach that and then you do even more.”

Another runner, Pam Reed, 49, said ““Why are people going further and harder and stronger?” she asked. “It makes other things in life seem much more doable. We have so many challenges in our lives with the economy and people losing their jobs and their homes. This is a way of defeating them and breaking the monotony of life.”

“I don’t love pain, but I do like challenges,” Ms. Reed said. “And unless something is difficult, it doesn’t seem that satisfying.”

This is a real good message. If it’s too easy to accomplish, then I don’t get no…satisfaction either. More on Pam Reed in another post. She is a sensation!