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"A lifetime in a day" - Mat Grills

A lifetime in a day

Words: Mat Grills
Images: @ifyouseeaidan

It has been said that running 100miles is like a lifetime in a day.  I was fortunate enough to experience this phenomenon again last weekend at The Glasshouse 100….and what a journey it was.

It is hard to articulate what traversing that span by foot is like, as every race is different.  Having completed the same distance only seven weeks ago at The Rail Trail 100miler, The House was always going to be a challenge.  But, like an addiction, a lover or birthing a child, any past pain is soon forgotten and it draws you back, time and time again.  I got what I bargained for.

My lead up for Rail Trail 100 was near perfect.  I had a solid base and team around me and topped that off with 1000km in six weeks before tapering.  The race went well (still with its own struggles) and I finished in 9th and my fastest 100mile time to date: 18hr 49min.  The time between the two races however was a tug-o-war!  I was scheduled to do the big one but then decided to do the 50k as motivation was low and I had ‘all the excuses’.  After an indirect kick in the pants by The Cameraman, I decided to stop with the pity party and sign up for the miler.  Game on.


For the first 60k of Glasshouse, I didn't really want to be there.  My body was moving okay but my mind was weak, I felt low and honestly, I wanted to quit many many times.  The only things that really kept me going were my crew giving up their time to be there and thoughts of my dad who would have been doing his eighth consecutive Glasshouse but wasn't able to attend due to family commitments.  Given all this, I knew from my 11-year history in ultra running that if I ride the wave, trust the process and be patient that things will eventually come back to me.  Which, thankfully, on the eastern section at Checkpoint 8 they began to.
The course was the toughest ever created at The House (over 4000m of climbing) and it was a bloody hard day at the office.  I toiled through the day, persevered, kept moving forward and picked up one of my crew/pacers Aiden late in the afternoon and then Tim late into the night.  My stomach and body was playing games all day but I stood firm, worked really hard to get the job done and after 22hrs and 21min I was home.

With so many ups and downs and a broken body in return, 100miles is where my soul lies.  The distance I treasure more than pretty much anything in this world.  It teaches me about struggle, joy, brother/sisterhood, pain, elation, accomplishment and never, NEVER giving into the demons in your head.
100miles in a day is my home.  Something that no one ever perfects and can hand you polar opposites in experiences each and every time.  There is something incredibly cathartic in working toward a practice that is so unpredictable.  I am a student of the sport, sometimes monk like in my being, all for the outcome of observation, learning, crushing my ego and aiming to grow into a better human ….in every way.

Nothing is impossible.  Sign up for that 5k, swim one lap, be a better parent today than yesterday, do something special for that boss you hate, and if it scares you enough, sign up for a 100miler!  The only thing limiting us in life from doing something that petrifies us is the space between our ears…our mind.  In the words of the Leadville 100 creator - Ken Cholouber – ‘You are stronger than you think you are and you can achieve more than you think you can’.  Be extraordinary, NEVER limit yourself and open your mind to the incredible world of possibility waiting for you…..just around the corner.
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