Not Normal Behaviour

Reading: Stuart Staples’ Not Normal Behaviour. It’s an amusing account of one man’s decision and subsequent year of training to enter an Ironman Triathlon. (The Ironman distance is an ultra-endurance event involving 3.8km in the water, 180km on the bike, and a full 42km marathon to finish.)

In some ways, the book is oversold – marketing blurb paints Staples as a soft suburbanite, when in fact he was a fanatical athlete at the time he made the decision. (Which makes a huge difference – I used to think Sprints would be enough; now I do Olympic distance with plans for a half-Ironman in 2006.) But the book contains enough laughs to compensate. He talks about the joy of body marking (you DO feel good when you’re getting your race number inked on your skin) and T shirt poker – the agonising decision of which previous race T shirt to wear when registering, so everyone knows you’re not a novice.

(I’ve stood in a queue wearing my Salford ITU T shirt, and had a look from a guy in a Hawaii Ironman shirt that said ‘Ha! I see your Salford, and raise you an Ironman Hawaii!’ I had to fold.)

He keeps perspective throughout, always remembering that whatever the distance he’s still competing in a stewarded, marked, organised race, not exploring the rainforest solo. A good read.

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