Driven By Insanity

Kottke plucks from the NYT archives a fascinating profile of an ultra-endurance athlete from Slovenia:

‘‘During race, I am going crazy, definitely,’’ [Jure Robic] says, smiling in bemused despair. ‘‘I cannot explain why is that, but it is true.’’ The craziness is methodical, however, and Robic and his crew know its pattern by heart. Around Day 2 of a typical weeklong race, his speech goes staccato. By Day 3, he is belligerent and sometimes paranoid. His short-term memory vanishes, and he weeps uncontrollably. The last days are marked by hallucinations: bears, wolves and aliens prowl the roadside; asphalt cracks rearrange themselves into coded messages. Occasionally, Robic leaps from his bike to square off with shadowy figures that turn out to be mailboxes. In a 2004 race, he turned to see himself pursued by a howling band of black-bearded men on horseback.

‘‘Mujahedeen, shooting at me,’’ he explains. ‘‘So I ride faster.’’

The whole piece is worth a look.