People go ‘ultra’ in so many ways

For most people, just completing a marathon of 26 miles would be a major achievement. But that’s a walk in the park for ultra-runners like 35-year-old Sufiya Khan of Delhi. 

Khan was recently certified by the Guinness World Records for the “fastest time to travel the Indian Golden Quadrilateral on Foot” by a female. She completed the 6,002-km journey along the highway network connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai in 110 days, 23 hours and 24 minutes.  

Ultra-running is her passion and she left a job in the aviation industry to dedicate herself to it. According to, the word “ultra” means “going beyond what is usual or ordinary; excessive; extreme.” 

It seems to me that people go “ultra” in so many ways, not just running, but don’t get enough recognition. Here are just some examples of the ultra-choices that people are making: 

1. Ultra-Eating: This often happens when people visit restaurant buffets. They stuff themselves with food. Ultra-eating is virtually the opposite of ultra-running. While ultra-runners keep moving forward to reach the finish line, ultra-eaters keep moving sideways to reach more food. Many ultra-runners lose weight during their runs, whereas ultra-eaters lose only the top buttons in their pants. 

2. Ultra-Sleeping: This is a popular activity among teenagers, particularly in my household. My kids sleep from yesterday to tomorrow and wonder what happened to today. Ultra-sleeping is actually very beneficial, not just for the teenage brain, which needs sleep to restore itself, but also for the adult brain, which needs long breaks from teenagers. 

3. Ultra-Bingeing: A “binge” is a short period of excessive indulgence in something, so ultra-bingeing is a marathon session of bingeing. In this case, I am mostly referring to people who binge on Netflix or other streaming services, watching many seasons of a TV series in one sitting. When they start watching, the main actor is picking up women at nightclubs; and when they stop, he’s picking up Metamucil at CVS. 

4. Ultra-Drinking: A lot of ultra-drinking involves alcohol and takes place in bars (or pubs). This is good for the local economy. First you spend 50 percent of your income at the local bar, then you spend the remaining 50 percent at the local hospital. But there’s also a healthy kind of ultra-drinking. This involves drinking water—and lots of it. I’ve seen some schoolchildren walking around with water bottles that are so large, other kids run toward them during fire drills. 

5. Ultra-Praying: No matter your religion, you’ve probably been in a place of worship where someone is engaging in an ultra-prayer: a prayer that goes on for so long, some worshippers need to take bathroom breaks. In the midst of their ultra-prayer, you find yourself praying, too—praying that their prayer will end soon. But your prayer is no match for theirs, because not only are they praying for the strength to keep praying, but they’re also praying for you to realize you don’t have a prayer.   

6. Ultra-Baking: I’m not talking about people participating in the Great British Bake Off or anything like that. I’m talking about all the people, mostly white folk, who feel the need to bake themselves in the sun. Some of them lie outside for several hours at a time, trying to get a little darker. You’ll see them at the beach, spending more time in the sun than in the water. They slather all kinds of baking sauces on themselves, emptying bottles with names such as “Sublime Bronze,” “Tropical Dark,” and “Almost Obama.” Meanwhile, many of the dark-skinned people are trying to do the opposite: get lighter. Some of them use lightning creams, but others just avoid the sun like a plague. Nothing is more half-baked than this. 

7. Ultra-Thinking: This is perhaps the highest form of human activity. Ultra-thinkers are the reason why the human race has advanced so much, the reason we’re no longer hunters and gatherers. Except, of course, when we’re hunting for the latest iPhone or gathering the courage to ask the boss for a raise. 

Perhaps I need to give this a little more thought. 

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