I have run ultras in the mountains. I have run ultras in the deserts. I have run looped-course ultras. I have run an ultra across Death Valley. I have run solo ultras. But there was one glaring omission from my previous running resume: an ultramarathon with the opportunity to eat ice cream sixteen times per mile.
In his 50th year with more 100-mile wins than many will ever even attempt to run, Karl Meltzer’s nutrition plan is one to take note of. From the outside, folks probably think he spends his days sipping on Speedgoat Blend coffee, Red Bull, and maybe a beer or two. Fortunately, I got an inside look at how his real nutrition shapes his success.
As ultrarunners, naturally we love to run. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm for the primal act of running, and its Dr. Feelgood of Fitness-endorphin-effect is often not tempered enough by sensibility. More is only better to a certain point; then the law of diminishing returns kicks in.
Whether it’s a medical talk on foot care or the vendor expo during the Western States 100 race registration, the feeling is overwhelming: people have gathered together from all over the world to witness this annual event. But it didn’t matter whether you were a runner, crew member, pacer, volunteer or spectator – you were a part of the ultrarunning community.
HOKA One One picked up Jim Walmsley shortly after his first foray at Western States in 2016 – the one that was infamously derailed by the missed left turn. He’s been involved with shoe development and prototype testing since then, and the EVO Mafate is an example of how his contributions have improved the performance aspects of existing HOKA models.
Each mistake I make in an ultra teaches me something new and brings me a little farther than the last race. Let me list my mistakes and what they taught me, in the hopes that you can avoid making the same ones.
On May 5, 2018 Rockhopper Races launched its first race in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Although White Lake Ultras was not held on the rugged terrain that the White Mountains are known for, it did provide a variety of trails that went around White Lake. There were beautiful mountain views from parts of the 2.9-mile race course as well as snowmobile trails and technical single track.
Seeing some of the Golden Hour finishers I had assisted in some small way successfully complete their journey to Auburn was a pinnacle moment for me after two decades of ultrarunning. There always will be, no matter how mainstream this sport goes, the nowhere-near-first multitudes comprising the heart of Ultra quietly grinding it out for the simple satisfaction of proving to themselves they could do it.
Time stops for none of us, and that is especially true in the sport of ultrarunning. Whether it is Wally Hesseltine trying to finish the last 300 yards of Western States in under one minute so he could become the oldest finisher at age 73, or Jim Walmsley trying to win and set records on the biggest stages at age 27, we all have windows that come and go.
With almost perfect weather, we had a record number of participants (231), a record number doing 100 or more miles (nine), a record number doing 50 or more miles (154), and set six new state age group records.
In 1999, Suzi Cope created the Grasslands Trail Run not long after moving to north Texas from California. As a pioneer in women’s ultrarunning – she was the first woman to complete the Grand Slam – it was important to build a stronger trail running community in her new home state.
You don’t often see the words “Iowa” and “ultrarunning” in the same sentence. The Hawkeye State has no mountains and little gnarly single track to attract hardcore masochists. But, there are a few ultras scattered around the state, and they have their charms. The Hawkeye 50K is one example.
It’s inevitable these days, a debilitating race anxiety hits that’s so overwhelming it’s actually scary. Heartbeats pound strong enough I feel as if my chest will shatter. Night sweats drench my pajamas. And a stomach twisted with nervous energy ensures the probability of getting any solid food down is next to nothing. Tackling new distances seems to exacerbate things, as I step into the unknown.
A cornerstone of being in the zone is freedom from expectations. Expectations are projections into the future, based on the past. They are not in the moment. The present moment is a heady place to be. But that is the only place we will ever find the zone, ever find the fleeting feelings of freedom; on the run, or anywhere.
The Napa Valley 50K takes runners from downtown Calistoga, California to the top of Mount St. Helena, running along the Palisades Trail. Runners consistently praise the course for its remoteness, technical challenge, almost 8k of vertical, and stunning views of the Napa Valley.
If cutoffs are your nemesis, try the following aid station tactics. They’ll easily give you a 30-minute cushion. In a 100 miler, you’ll likely end up with an hour’s worth of safety net. And if you just want to PR or nose out a rival without running any faster, try these strategies too.
More than anything, what separates Western States from most other 100-milers is the pre-race buzz. Hype. There’s lots of it. The Squaw Valley village is full of runners, pacers, crew, spectators, volunteers, media, sponsors, and various other hangers on. The energy level – and entrant’s anxiety levels – increases as race week goes on. By Friday, it’s so electric you can feel it.
Every May the Born to Run Ultra Marathons draw over 1,000 people from a world-wide pool of misfit athletes, creating a legendary running journey through the creative mind of shotgun-toting Race Director Luis Escobar.
Spending my days alone in a home office keeps me longing for an escape, and a well-earned lunch of fresh air and vitamin D on the trails is often the highlight of my day. And while I run regularly with others, we typically don’t make a habit of analyzing our training plans. That’s where the services of a coach can come in handy. Here are a few things to consider when looking for someone to crack the proverbial whip.
For those of you, like myself, who are potentially facing triple digit temperatures to match a triple digit race distance, here are some things to consider to keep your ‘A’ goals from evaporating.