Register Here !
Contact No
Login Here !
Forgot Password?

1. Delhi sanitation workers call off strike 2. A red carpet welcome and Gujarati culture and cuisine await Xi during his six-hour visit to the state.3. Remittances to Kerala are growing ever since Keralites started migrating to the Gulf region 4. A giant meteorite that wiped out dinosaurs along with evergreen flowering plants 66 million years ago gave rise to deciduous plants 5. Ten million people in the US survive on less than $2 a day
Fifteen suspects detained, main accused identified in the Bulandshahr gangrape case.

Mensen Ernst: the Ultra-marathoner

MENSEN ERNST was found dead beside the Nile in 1843 by British travellers, who buried him in the sand. Today the river bank is gone, swallowed in the water held behind Egypt’s Aswan Dam. No one could have vanished more totally than this man. Yet nearly 170 years after his death, Mensen Ernst still holds unchallenged claim to have been the greatest long-distance runner the world has ever known. All Europe once knew of this short stocky Norwegian and his phenomenally fast journeys on foot. Turks and Arabs called him “the Eagle of the Desert”; the Queen of Bavaria dubbed him “the shortest man with the longest legs.”

Fortunes were staked on his races across Europe and Asia, hundreds of thousands hailed his performances and medical men of the day attempted-rather unsuccessfully–to explain his seemingly superhuman feats.

Born in Bergen in 1799, Mensen was sent off at the age of eight to naval school in Copenhagen–and after 1812 became an expatriate for the rest of his life. ‘When his parents perished in a shipwreck, he vowed never to go home again. Several years of world-wide voyages with a British skipper helped instill his never-to-be satisfied taste for strange countries. And it was on one of his travels that he got his first opportunity to race against African runners in Cape Town.

At the age of 20, tired of a seaman’s life, he signed off in London to begin his running career. In those days when communications were slow and unreliable, well-to-do families kept “running-footmen” as messengers. Foot-running was also a popular sport, with a good deal of lively betting on the competitors. Mensen had always excelled at running. Surely he could make a living from wagers and prizes, and commissions as a messager? As it proved, he out-ran everyone, and even beat the postal vans. His fame was assured when he ran a 116 kilometre race from London to Portsmouth in nine hours-an incredible average speed of 13 kilometres an hour.

For the next 20 years he astounded all who saw him. Wearing his sailor’s uniform, he raced before big crowds in at least 70 European and Asian cities, including Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Paris, Munich, Madrid, St Petersburg, Venice, Vienna and Budapest. But what really set him apart and made him a great runner, as well as a great adventurer, were three big races that combined distance, cross-country, steeplechase, orienteering, marathon and any other known kind of running. They have no parallel in sports history.

With a hundred thousand francs placed in bets, Mensen set out from the Place Vendome in Paris at 4.10 on the morning of June 11, 1832. His pledge: Moscow on foot in 15 days. He had mapped out a route that covered 2,600 kilometres. He reached the main gate of the Kremlin in 14 days, 5 hours and 50 minutes.

The following year, he pledged to the King and Queen of Bavaria to carry a personal message to their son, King Otto, in the then Greek royal capital of Nafplion, within one month. The estimated distance: 2,000 kilometres.

Setting out from the castle of Nymphenburg, just outside Munich, at 1.05 p.m. on June 6, 1833, Mensen soon faced steep mountains, trackless forests, numerous streams. Robbers caught him, the terrain forced him to make detours, he was twice arrested and held for several days. But on July1, at 9.48 a.m., Mensen reported to the guard of the royal, castle in Nafplion. It had taken him 24 days and 20 hours and 43 minutes.

Three years later, for a fee of 150 pounds, Ernst promised to take important letters from British merchants in Constantinople to their correspondents in Calcutta, then return to Constantinople, all within two months. The estimated distance' more than 8,300 kilometres. He set out at 5 a.m. on July 28, 1836, and made it to Calcutta in 30 days and 4 hours. True to his word, after a four-day rest, he ran all the way back to Constantinople, returning on September 28.

Nagging doubts that such prodigious running feats are possible must be weighed against evidence from contemporary sources. His exploits were mentioned in newspaper all over Europe, and a German writer published a book based on Ernst’s diaries and on interviews with him.

Cheating along the way hardly enters the question, since only the very best relay of horses could possibly have carried Mensen faster than his own legs. Indeed, when in 1840, he entered the service of Germany’s Prince of Puckler-Muskau, as a messenger between the Prince’s estate and Berlin, Ernst would cover the distance in 14 hours; while the regular mail coach took 24.

For Mensen Ernst, running must have been  a natural  urge; it is known that he frequently ran more than 150 kilometres a day. While top marathoners today cover 42 kilometres in a little over two hours, at an average speed of 18 to 19 kilometres an hour, Ernst could maintain a pace of 8 to 10 kilometres an hour for hundreds of kilometres, day after day, week after week.

In his diary, he mentions a special “jumping step” with which, it appears, he could cover up to two metres in one springy stride-despite his short legs. Mensen actually found a way to add to their length: running on stilts, to cross streams.

A mostly Spartan way of life helped keep his muscular body trim. On his race from Paris to Moscow he consumed only about two kilos of cold meat, concentrating on white bread, and drinking a good deal of wine–his one weakness. He preferred to sleep outdoors on the bare ground. When indoors, he insisted on having a plain, wooden bench for a bed.

For Ernst, running was mainly a way to see the world. Wherever he went, he tried to choose new routes. His years at sea were not wasted, since he could never have found his way through often trackless land without his maps, compass, ship’s chronometer, quadrant and his ability to navigate by the sun and stars.

He wrote in his diary: “I chose a calling that, however strange and I fruitless most people may find it, did bring me much honour and wealth in addition to a rich harvest of all pleasures of travelling. Though, I must admit, also some of its sorrows and hardships.”

At 40, he looked aged and worn. Long exposure to the sun and wind, plus constant physical effort, had turned his hair grey and his face to deeply wrinkled parchment. And he had begun to search for a higher purpose than just running fast. He staged races for charity, donating the proceeds to poor people he met.

In 1843, Ernst set out to run the length of Africa, from Alexandria to the Cape. But he wanted the venture to be more than a race. Sponsored by the Prince of Puckler-Muskau, Mensen determined to find the source of the Nile.

He did not get further than the river’s first cataract. Then disease, presumably dysentery, halted his steps for ever.

Later, the prince is said to have gone to great trouble and expense to have a stone erected over the grave, with the following epitaph: “Swift as the deer, restless as the swallow. Earth, his arena, never saw his like.” And no one else did.

Posted On :

A picture shows new South Sudanese arrivals awaiting processing in the Kule refugee camp near the Pagak Border Entry point in the Gambela Region of Ethiopia, during a visit of the head of the UNHCR.
Posted On : April 18 ,2014 19 : 27
Posted On : March 30 ,2014 15 : 35
Posted On : March 30 ,2014 14 : 44
Posted On : March 30 ,2014 10 : 57
Posted On :
Posted On :
Posted On :

This is a pair of bullets that collided during the Gallipoli (Gelibolu) Campaign of the WWI. The bullets embedded into each other were found by a farmer plowing his fields seventy-five years after the battle had concluded in 1915. These bullets are displayed in the Naval Museum in the city of Çanakkale. The odds for collision of two bullets, each traveling close to 1,500 m/sec, are abysmally low. (In 1895 there were only two automobiles in the entire City of Cleveland, and they collided. That probability was much higher, considering the pedestrian speeds that such vehicles could travel in those days, than for two bullets traveling at supersonic speeds to collide.) The factor that must be considered is the astonishing density of bullets flying through the air in that horrific battle.

Posted On : June 12 ,2015 21 : 53

There are few who dare to dream and fewer who make that dream a reality. A 65-year old woman, who lost her husband at the age of 23 due to lack of medical treatment, has today set up a hospital to make sure everyone doesn't suffer the same fate as she did.

Posted On : March 30 ,2015 14 : 45

The image that the mention of the word Mumbai conjures up is that of an upstart of a city that made it good due to its colonial past; a city whose existence is nothing more than a recent blip in the endless timeline of Indian history; a city which has no rich cultural past to be proud of, and a city which certainly has no spiritual tradition.

Posted On : June 28 ,2014 19 : 43

There are billions of galaxies in the Universe and each galaxy has billions of stars in it. Yet, even on the clearest night, we are not able to see more that 5000 stars with our unaided eyes. It is for the simple reason that most of the stars very very far away from us and each other.

Posted On : June 28 ,2014 19 : 31

It all began in 1979 when floods washed a large number of snakes ashore on the sandbar.

Posted On : June 27 ,2014 19 : 17

“Is that high-pitched voice really mine?” “Do I actually speak in such a shrill voice?” OR “There must be some problem with the recording instrument. This is definitely not my voice.” The reaction varies from an embarrassed grin to utter dismay to complete disbelief to outright rejection when you hear your recorded voice for the first time. You refuse to believe that the shallow, ear piercing sound is your own voice, the one you have been hearing all our lives. Sorry. There is nothing wrong with the recording equipment or the speakers. The problem lies in your head. Literally.

Posted On : June 16 ,2014 17 : 11

Water may be the elixir of life, but it sure can send your health into a tailspin, even endanger your life, if you drink too much of it.

Posted On : April 18 ,2014 19 : 00

This happens only in Tehran: Here people pay you to walk behind their car, so the traffic cameras can not capture their number-plates when they enter the restricted-traffic areas!

Posted On : April 14 ,2014 19 : 50

When he first synthesized LSD on November 16, 1938, during his research on lysergic acid derivatives, Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann was not looking for something to get high on. In fact, he was searching for a respiratory and circulatory stimulant.

Posted On : March 19 ,2014 13 : 32