Author Sarah Lavender Smith

Sarah Lavender Smith is an ultrarunning coach, writer and mom of two who divides her time between the Bay Area and southwestern Colorado. She is the author of the book, The Trail Runner’s Companion: A Step-by-Step Guide to Trail Running and Racing, from 5Ks to Ultras. Follow her blog TheRunnersTrip.com.

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Listen to Your Mom: Be Prepared

“Anything can happen in the mountains,” I tell my 19-year-old son, Kyle, as I show him how to use the SOS button on my GPS tracking device. When I hand him a windbreaker, he looks at me as if I’m insane, because we’re living through a heat wave and the sky is cloudless.

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A Renewed Relationship with Ultrarunning

When the pandemic erased the motivator of ultras from our calendars, we had to reconnect with deeper reasons why we run long. Personally, I desperately needed to re-establish and fortify my bread-and-butter weekly running routine for reasons that have little to do with preparing for ultras.

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Ultra Lessons for Real Life

When my son, Kyle, proudly grasped his diploma and pumped his fist in triumph during his high school graduation this past June, I cheered loudly while infused with feelings of relief, happiness and love. As odd as it might be to think of ultrarunning during that emotional milestone as a parent, the “golden hour” of the Western States finish line flashed through my mind.

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A Marathon Can Rev Up Your Ultrarunning

As I considered the apples-to-oranges comparison between road marathons and mountain ultras, I wondered. What if, instead of trying to be the marathon runner I used to be, I embraced the tougher, heavier, more truck-like ultrarunner I’ve become?

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Kami Semick’s Comeback: Racing Again with a Fresh Outlook

A decade ago, at 42, Kami Semick reached the pinnacle of ultrarunning. She won every race she entered in 2009, including two world championship events in the 100K and 50K, and earned UltraRunning’s Ultrarunner of the Year title for the second year in a row. But five years later, she called it quits and disappeared from the sport.

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You Don’t Have to Super-Size Your Ultras

In this era of 200-is-the-new-100, it feels almost inevitable that many runners and race directors will super-size perfectly good and satisfying ultra routes, and we ultrarunners will feel compelled to choose the longer option or feel slightly guilty or less accomplished if we take the shorter route.

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When a Search-and-Rescue 
Hits Close to Home

The sound of a helicopter circling over our property near Telluride, Colorado, filled my ears for several days straight. The sight of teams of volunteers dressed in hiking gear, fanning out in the aspen groves and bushwhacking off trail while shouting, “Tim,” pulled at my heart.

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The Beauty of the Buddy System

Barely past the halfway point of Run Rabbit Run 100 last September, my legs and feet rebelled. Stiff muscles, achy joints and soles so tender that I winced with each step conspired to abort yet another attempt to run. Dejectedly hiking in the fading light of dusk on a gentle stretch of trail above Steamboat Springs, I said to my pacer, Jacob Kaplan-Moss, “Sorry, this is all I can manage right now.”