No one quite knows how far the limits of human endurance can be pushed, but it's likely that the ultimate barriers are in the mind. In recent times the marathon has been generally regarded as the toughest test of endurance; but in reality for centuries men and women have undertaken challenges of far greater magnitude than a mere 26.2 mile run. And now ultradistance events are an established part of modern sport.
Extraordinary feats such as cycling 1,100 miles over Alaskan snowfields, completing a three-way swim of the Channel or running 50 miles a day across Australia all appear in the ultra-athletes calendar. Success in ultra-endurance comes from the capacity to synthesise high levels of physical fitness with powerful mental skills.
The physical preparation is the easy part; training the mind to push the body to go the distance is the crucial, and far more demanding, factor. Some athletes slip easily into an effortless, free- flowing moving meditation; others grit their teeth against the mounting pain and grind their way to the finish.
This book explores the capacity of ultra-distance athletes to control their mental states in order to produce supreme performances. Travelling from Mexico's Copper Canyon, home of the legendary Tarahumara, to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where a cult community of ultra-runners live; talking to Channel swimmers and ultra-triathletes; examining the feats of Buddhist monks and American Indians, the author embarks upon a quest for the truth about Zendurance.