Reykjavik Iceland…As dearly as I treasure travel, I do not have a “bucket list”. There are two reasons for this. If life has taught me anything, it is that I am constantly changing. Compiling a list of “must do’s” that would require years to fulfill risks dwindling allure and motivation, and I would regret feeling beholden to a place because the person I used to be thought it was a good idea.
Complementing this rationalization is another life lesson. I have come to appreciate our world presents more wonders than I can reasonably savor in a single lifetime. It seems a month never slips by without stumbling across some marvelous new destination I previously knew nothing about. When the timing is right and the stars align such discoveries get seriously pursued.
My mode of travel is to attempt a deep experience of the new place and culture I have been drawn to. This means I read up on the
history, struggle to learn basics of the local lingo, and even seek fiction set there or authored by a native (usually both) – I have found such reads are often a brilliant way to get closer. And when I do go, I spend some time there to try and tap into the local vibe. This tack is clearly a bit time-intensive, so I do not expect to stop in every country or have a huge stack of “been there, done that” items by the time I check out.
The upside is that I am content to pass on a bucket list. Even more so after learning about the adventure a few guys were planning some years ago. Their objective was to wheel around the planet and see how many passport stamps they could ring up in three weeks. I was offended. My initial conclusion was how dismissive of other cultures this childish ramble was, but fortunately, I held my tongue and thought about it a bit more.
I have long held the opinion that religions should avoid fundamentalism because the attempt to force one’s beliefs on others has generated so much misery. It dawned on me I needed to apply this secular tenet to travel. Who am I to imply there is only one way to travel, my way? The more I dwelled on this, the more I considered that in spite of forfeiting learning much about their stops along the way, it would probably make for intense challenges and likely yield a lot of practical advice for other travelers. Many of my friends could care less about flying overseas to complete a hike, and by the same token, I pass when they invite me over to watch NASCAR on TV.
The bottom line is I got off my high horse and became more accepting. I also lost any trace of remorse over a personal style of picking destinations by simply going with the flow of current events in my life.
So this brings us to the next marathon. Last time I shared how missing my goal of running a sub-four-hour marathon by nineteen seconds had me searching for another run the very next weekend. Having consciously decided to combine travel, led to a fun search for interesting races. A primary contender was the Australian Outback Marathon. Usually, run at the end of July (conveniently during Australia’s cooler winter months), the course runs in view of Uluru, or Ayers Rock. Because nobody really lives in this remote stretch, virtually every entrant is also a tourist and registration may be combined with various extended tours. Well, that is my cup of tea, but the course is largely on unpaved roads and getting bogged down in the area’s famous red dirt seemed like it would comprise my ability to crush the four-hour barrier.
So how about the Big Five Marathon, run during June in South Africa’s Entabeni Game Reserve? Here there are no barriers between the course and critters, so it is possible to see the “big five” (Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion, and Leopard) while you run! I was astonished to realize how many similar adventures awaited the hardy runner but eventually zeroed in on the Midnight Sun Run. Held in Tromsø, Norway around the summer solstice, this jaunt begins at midnight but you still run in daylight since Tromsø lies within the
What pushed this to the top of the list was a longing to visit Scandinavia and my usual attraction to goofy motivations. It occurred to me that for once jet lag might be a bonus because the start time would be 6AM for me and I figured locals would be more thrown off than I would! A friend of mine from Finland, Ilse, is an avid runner so I emailed her to see whether Tromsø might be of interest. Her reply was “I can’t because I will be running Reykjavik in August”. Iceland? Hmmm…sure glad I don’t have a bucket list.