By GREG WHITE
THE classic Tom Courtenay film from 1962, Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, has become more famous for the atmosphere of its title than the depth of its plot.
Something sparks the imagination when athletes go beyond the normal expectations of human endurance.
Sprinters are flashy.
Their race takes seconds and involves an explosion of adrenalin.
But, the stayers are different.
Not only do they challenge time, distance and rivals, their battle is far more personal.
They go to war with their own bodies, breaking repeatedly through the pain barrier.
And, they joust with the madness in their minds.
The tiny voice of a devil, telling them to give up.
For the long distance runner, the race is almost biblical.
Lyn Fulton, a Toormina High School teacher, has twice finished the Hawaiian Ironman, arguably the meanest, mongrel-of-a-race, in the world.
By her own admission she doesn't have speed, but does have the ability to keep going long distances.
"Sometimes, I wonder if that so-called ability isn't a misfortune," Lyn told the Coffs Coast Advocate.
"It means more hours and kilometres of training."
Fulton has made a habit of confronting the mental and physical loneliness of long distance running.
A second in the 1998 World Long Course Triathlon in Japan, third in the 2000 Hawaiian Ironman and second in the 2002 World Long Course Triathlon in France, have been her rewards.
This year, she ventured back to Hawaii for the killer race, something amazing in itself.
A training accident within days of the trip, a tangle with a moving vehicle, almost spelled disaster.
Rather than tell her story for her, we asked Fulton to give a personal account of her experiences, feelings and impresssions.
Like us, you may be astonished at what she experienced.