Perhaps you went for a run this morning to burn off those Fourth of July Bud Lime calories, and it was hot and gross and sweaty. Try running for 50 hours, nonstop, along the Australian coast. That’s when things get weird — like apparitions from a galaxy far, far away.
Ultra-marathoner Joe Ward recently told the Daily Telegraph that during his 165-mile-long run in 2014, he was joined by a few spectral running buddies:
“I was hallucinating quite badly. I saw R2-D2,” he said.
His hallucinations, not content to hew to the space-opera genre, were by turns schlocky and Seussian.
“I was also seeing ghosts and ghouls. I saw a guy in a top hat standing by a tree, and a cat.”
Running for great lengths, like any extreme exertion, has its share of side-effects. Where bloodied nips are the result of poor lubrication, lack of sleep and water lead to hallucinations. Marathoners have seen the white lines down the road lifted and shaken like unraveling paper rolls. Herodotus wrote that Greek marathoner Pheidippides spotted Pan at the 200 kilometer mark, which, as the Economist remarked in 2012, would not have been surprising as “the first recorded case of exercise-induced hallucination.”
Ward, to his credit, avoided giving into his fear. “It’s kind of scary,” he told the Telegraph, “but because I’ve had the experience quite a few times, I know it’s not real.”