Tor Rønnow

Marathon-runner since 2004. Doctorate in Organic Chemistry 1994. Book Author 2010.

A Marathon Requiem for my Friends

As you might know Death has played a major role in my life. I have lived through things you wouldn’t believe. I have possessed hinsights from the age of 7 that many people never realize during a lifetime. Still, I only show my true mental strength in glimpses and feel that I cannot reveil my full potential or knowledge to anyone. Basically, I have a complexity that I know that most poeple cannot grasp or handle.  I read most people in seconds. I look through it all, through you all. It is a burden at times, most times, because I have to pretend that I don’t. But I do. I truly hate it !

Death has also taken pray in recent times. Thus, I, we, have lost three running mates during the last 16 months. These losses are naturally different from the family ones, however, they still trigger some of the same feelings and thoughts… and to elaborate on the perhaps cryptic intro: for me, the loss of my three friends makes me think a lot about the deep existentialistic questions that I think we all face. Why are we here ? What shall we do with our lives ? What is of importance ? What happens “afterwards” ?

On the latter let me tell you this: nothing ! And if you knew how fast the World will forget you as dead, I think you would reschedule your life as living quite a lot ! At best, you will be remembered by the ones that knew you in person… but how long will they live after you ? 30 years ? 40 years ? If you have produced “stuff” as a scientist, artist or successful entrepreneur your name and fame might hang around a bit more… but make no mistake, your materialistic or abstract outlets in the Universe has nothing to to with “life”. YOU will be dead ! And your Vanity dies with you.

So what is important ? Friendship is important ! Sharing moments together eg. when running marathons is important. Reaching tough deadlines with your collegues is important. Rasing your kids well is important. Searching for good values and habits is important. Being true to yourself and your own nature is important. There are indeed heaps of reasons for being curious about life, about love, about running experiences, about new things to happen. Don’t let anyone tell you the opposite, ever !

I had the priviledge to enjoy the friendships of René Fasting (died two days after his first marathon triplet),

Philip Ulrich (killed by a odd-falling rock in Nepal),

and John West (killed on Mont Blanc).

They were very accomodating and warm men, and I had some very profound talks and writings with all three of them. Now, it is time to follow up. It is time to say: “you are still here”. In my mind and heart at the least.

Furthermore, it is time to make a spiritual promise: “I will fullfil my true potential !“. Because I still live and have the possibility. We all have. Remember and understand: Every day is a luxury and the potential beginning of a new adventure, of new friendships, of fun and experiences. Today is the beginning of the rest of your life and if you put your mind and heart to it, you may truly change your Reality forever. NOW is the time to act. NOW is the center of power. We who live should take on our responsibility.

So, René, Philip and John, I have decided to transform and to unleash my full capacity. You will find me doing new stuff from now on… and you will find me continuing the things I deeply love, including running marathons and meeting up with our many common, wonderful and a bit crazy friends. I will check out the hot girls for you, tell the dirty jokes and shoot the stories and pictures from the races. Who knows if you are following or if we meet again…

… but until, I will take care of things down here… until it, hopefully in many years from now, become my turn to face the silent, eternal sleep.

Thank you so much for the inspiration !

Beim Schlafengehen

Nun der Tag mich müd’ gemacht,
soll mein sehnliches Verlangen
freundlich die gestirnte Nacht
wie ein müdes Kind empfangen.

Hände, laßt von allem Tun,
Stirn, vergiß du alles Denken.
Alle meine Sinne nun
wollen sich in Schlummer senken.

Und die Seele, unbewacht,
will in freien Flügen schweben,
um im Zauberkreis der Nacht
tief und tausendfach zu leben.

Hermann Hesse

Trust & Conficence versus Isolation & Anxiety

Running marathons is all about adventures and experiences.

But it is more than just that. Running is about showing faith and confidence in the future. It is about having confidence in your own abilities, in your training schedule, and in the quality of the events you choose to participate in. Looking forward to the next marathon experience is embracing the future with trust. It is an act of love. I think this is one of the reasons why running is so popular: it sets a positive mindset !

In general, having Trust and Confidence in your life prepares your future experiences of adventure, of your career, of your relationships and your friendships. You should cultivate your inner (self-) confidence engine every day. You should affirm your values each day. And you should maintain trustworthyness and integrity so others continue to show you confidence. To me, the path away from a strong value set and personal integrity that is a path towards isolation and, ultimately, loss of self. As the famous quote by Blaise Pascal goes:”What is the good of gaining the whole World if you lose your own Soul ?” (elaborating on Matthew 16:26). The reverse is true as well: you immediately lose the World (= the experiences) if you lose your Soul (= your Trust & Conficence).

To elaborate, I think that the lack of Trust and Confidence is psychologically equal to the fatal idea that you should be “denied” access to future adventures and experiences. And could anything be more threatening to man that NOT having access to the so dearly experiences life gives. Right ? I guess this is why we all fear Death so much: not getting to experience anything anymore, to see our kids and loved ones expericence, etc. Isolation is Death as well, perhaps paradoxially drawn from the hinsight of Sartre:”Hell – that is the others“. The others in our own minds. Our own representation of the others. Our own lack of Trust & Confidence. Oh yes, our thoughts are SO important – each one of them !

In these days with the financial crisis, the international terror threat and what have you, Anxiety flurish. In the Danish media we read about men of great former wealth commiting suicide as a response to the loss your their materialistic – and you could add: extremely spoiled – bases. Is the power of disbelief and self-invented shame really so strong that you will kill yourself to it ? Is the lack of confidence in “a future” that pathologic ? I find it very sad ! But I also have to note that these stories confirm what I have always suspected: that real strength is not connected to the roles people play in the modern society. Roles are often given by appointment. True strength is a quality of the soul and the intellect that no company hierarchies or birthgiven luxuries can shape or maintain for real.

Indeed, in times of opposition true and sound values will prevail. Indeed, people will reconnect to universal and “pure” values. To me, running is one of them, i.e. being in the Nature and being physically active with one self and others, either in play or in sound competition.

Indeed, the stronger kind of Man will continue to display Trust in the future and to seek new experiences.

I will do so too – running !

Marine Corps Marathon 2010

I had a very pleasant trip to Washington D.C. this past weekend. I did not get to meet Barak Obama but I did indeed see the crowds – thousands of people – Saturday at the Jon Stewart rally at The Mall downtown Washington, that was a pretty chaotic and pretty entertaining affair.

Anyways, the main purpose of the trip was of course the Marine Corps Marathon 2010. MCM is also called “The Peoples Marathon” and there is actually no big price money in this event, ie. it is indeed a run for the ordinary man and marine. It proved to be a good one, such.

Raceday started rather early and taking the Metro from Court House to Pentagon at 6.20 pm proved to be a late call, actually.

The first 10 k turned out to include quite a few hills and ramps. Looking behind, I clearly started off much too fast. The first part of the race was primarily in green and soothing surroundings and certain parts had an almost meditative atmosphere.

Later, civilization and cheerful spectators appeared, indeed adding to and uplifting the experience of the event. The crowds in US just simply ROCK ! You MUST try a (big) US race once in your running career !

The highlight of the race was to me the part through the Smithsonian area, The Mall, just after passing The White House (!) and the Washington Monument. On this picture we see the US Capitol in the background.

The last part of the route included passing of the Pentagon and the finish at the famous Arlington Cementary…

… to cut the story short… I dragged myself through and got the medal. Jobe done !

So I can easily recommend a vist to the Marine Corps Marathon and to the many museums in Washington, the Holocaust Museum being the absolute most impressive and heartbreaking to see. But just to walk around The Mall and the Smithsonian area is filled with big and lasting impressions, with historic sites and monuments, and with touching memorials documenting the strive and losses of the American people. God Bless America and the Marine Corps Marathon too ! Go visit !

You find the entire story on the Marine Corps Marathon 2010 here (Danish) and here (English).