“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to  endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

What is it that fuels the fire, in some, to do seemingly impossible things?

Let’s take long, LONG distance running for example.

Have you ever found yourself shaking your head in disbelief when you hear about someone who likes to run ultramarathons?

In case you’ve missed these stories of human endurance, an “ultramarathon” is any footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometers (26.219 mi), but most of the greats in this sport are notable for their success in races from 80 to 160 kilometers (50 to 100 miles). The most challenging races are called “trail challenges”, and these races are specifically designed to include severe course obstacles such as rough terrain, climbing elevations, and battling bad weather. 1

Sounds fun, huh?!

Well, it turns out, 70,000 people worldwide compete in these races each year, so there must be some element to it that we can all identify with!

Today we explore that gap: the disconnect between most of us and the people who find ultramarathoning irresistible. And we may discover there is no gap at all!

Let’s start with a remarkable video to prime our minds. These journeys really say something about the capabilities of the human spirit and body. Thanks to The North Face, today we get to peek into the experience of three ultrarunners who participated in 3-country, 100-mile Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® in 2014, in this video so aptly titled “Curiosity”.

So, even if you have a hard time understanding the appeal of running, please take a moment out of your day to give this a watch!

Pro tip: Make sure you listen closely to what the narrator says. You may find some real insight in their words!

*Note: for sensitive ears, there are some minor swears right in the beginning there

Via: The North Face 2. Produced by Camp 4 Collective and co-produced by Renan Ozturk

What a remarkable window into a world most of us will never experience! We can identify with many of the impulses these athletes described: wonder, joy, comradery, and self-discovery. And through all that runs a common thread: curiosity.

Arguably the most curious of all runners may be the ultrarunners. They appear to be able to push themselves to the limit time and time again, and they learn how much more they can handle with each outing. It seems that at some level, they are letting curiosity take over.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has it’s own reason for existing” – Albert Einstein

This video also gives us a pause to wonder how we might behave when we’ve spent months, or even our entire lives, preparing for something, and in the end we find we’re unable to achieve a goal. Do we let our dreams go? Or can we simply accept that we’ve come as far as we’re capable in that moment, and open ourselves up to new possibilities? The future then beckons with the irresistible call of curiosity again.

Here’s a quote that seems to sum up the quest that may connect us all:

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder and spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.

– E. E. Cummings

If you’d like to find out more about what it takes to become an ultrarunner, click this link to take a look at an amazing article from Trail Runner!

If you’d like to stay on this sort of thread, take a look at one of the four articles I’ve recommended next at the bottom of this page. (All four down there are really amazing, today!)


Have we sparked your curiosity yet?

Click any of the buttons below to explore our categories full of people using their own curiosity to push the boundaries on what they and our world are capable of.

Sports on EWC   Tech on EWC  Science on EWC

Oh! One way to make sure you keep your own curiosity fueled is to have one article delivered to your inbox each day with a free subscription!


  1. “What Is Ultra Running?” Ultrarunning Magazine. N.p., 28 Nov. 2013. Web. 19 Sept. 2017. <https://ultrarunning.com/features/what-is-ultra-running/>.
  2. “Curiosity.” Vimeo. The North Face, 19 May 2015. Web. 19 Sept. 2017. <https://vimeo.com/128311814>.

Sam Burns

Editor in Chief

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world to the simple joys in life. Her experiences with mental health and loss fuel her curiosity to connect to what’s happening on our planet in a different way. Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and procurer of cheeses!