One Door Closes – Another Opens

Ole Jørgen Brøm received a daunting message; he would never be able to run again.

He replied by running The Marathon des Sables – twice and then he won the Backyard Ultra, running 29 hrs straight. Last Man Standing.

‘In 2012, I started to suffer from back pain, but it wasn’t until mid-2015 that it became unbearable. I experienced immense pain in my lower back and having what can only be described as constant ‘shooting needles’ up and down my left leg. I could not stand up nor sit’. MRIs confirmed prolapsed disc between L4-L5 and 4 other protruding discs. An urgent request for open-back-surgery was made, and 4 weeks (!!) later, it was done.

The prognosis for returning to an active job as Resort Manager and Fitness Professional was less than good. ‘A couple of surgeons said I had a 60% chance of being free from pain, but would not be able to conduct personal training sessions, and not even lift more than 10kg.

‘You will definitely not be able to run or jog again. Ever!’ As a result of the doctors’ prognosis, Ole got laid off from his post as Resort Manager at the very reputable 5 star hotel with which he had worked for 11 years. However Ole did not despair. His positive mental attitude kept him focused. 

Doctors dumbfounded

‘That wasn’t what I had in mind’, Ole remembers telling the doctors. ‘When I told them that I actually was planning to run what is called ‘The Toughest Footrace on Earth’, The Marathon des Sables, 250km in Sahara – carrying a week’s supply of food and equipment on the back – less than 6 months after my back surgery, it looked like they had fallen off the moon. They said I could never run again. I thought I could’.

So, Ole contacted a physiotherapist, duly did his rehabilitation daily for 3 months, which left another 10 weeks to follow his ambitious plan to prepare enough to prove the doctors wrong. ‘After several weeks of walking, I increased distance slowly. On January 1, I had my first 5km slow jog. It had been half a year since my last proper run and proper workout. But that went well, so the next day I increased, which also went well, and I continuously increased time on feet.’

The Toughest Footrace on Earth

After a mere 10 weeks of training, Ole was as ready as he could be – given the limited time to prepare. Being a self-sufficient stage race, in the heat in The Sahara Desert, covering more than 250km; ‘It is a beautiful experience on many levels, one of which is self-discovery’, Ole says and laughs.

‘I managed to complete it fairly ok. I arrived at 356th place of about 1250 athletes, having spent 44:30hrs completing it.’

Since then, Ole has completed many one-day ultras in the UAE, some of them even in the top 5 position.

In April 2018, Ole wanted to prove to himself – and the naysayers who doubted him first time around – that he could do MDS again – and now faster. ‘My training was better this year, so I improved my performance by about 14 hours. I came in at 30:23hrs, and 81st place among around 1000 athletes, and happy about that.’

No back issues – no pain

‘A lesson I’ve learned is that it’s not over till it’s over. Don’t let experts tell you what you can or can’t do. The mind-body connection is very powerful and the body can do amazing things when you stay positive and optimistic, and feed it the right nutrition; superior food and supplements. Never stop believe in yourself, Ole says.’

One Door Closes – Another Opens

When one door closes, another will always open. Often great opportunities will arise even where none were obvious to you at the start. Trust that good things WILL happen to you. Work hard, play hard, believe in Law of Attraction.

As such, when the opportunity presented itself for me to be part of Meraas AL Marmoom Ultramarathon – The World’s longest Desert Race, as Race Manager, I could not pass on it. 

Meraas AL Marmoom Ultramarathon – Race Manager

Having been part of #AMUM18 as Race Manager has been a very enriching experience. My main tasks were initially to consult on the components necessary to make a multi-stage ultra in the desert. As time passed and my involvement grew, my focus changed to ‘take care of the health and wellbeing of the athletes along with daily race-briefings. While it has truly been an enriching experience, I do prefer to suffer the pain of running…

Ole Brom is from Norway, lives in Dubai and is 46 years old.  Ole is a Fitness Professional, Run Coaching, Health Coach, Ultra Runner.  You can see Ole’s coach profile here

Posted on 17th Sep 2020