Ruthie Loffi hung up her bib at mile 50 of the Rocky Raccoon 100 in 2018. Amid tears and disappointment, Ruthie had an epiphany about a nagging worry that had consumed her most of her life. It took this DNF (which Ruthie loves to refer to as Did Not Fail) to realize that not trying was far worse than failure itself.
In a world of conveniences, why take on hard challenges? Perhaps because in the pain, misery and torture that we face in these abbreviated and self-imposed adventures, we grow empathetic and remember that we are all in it together, from the first person to the last person crossing the finish line.
I’ve had some personal experiences running an ultramarathon with a spouse. I ran every step of a 100-miler with my wife, Mel. I also DNF’d a 100-miler with her. During both experiences, the miles tried to kill us. And at some point (okay, multiple points) during each race, we wanted to kill each other.
In November 2019, the Lawrence Trail Hawks dedicated Sanders Saunter, their annual charity event, to 22BuddyCheck, a veteran suicide awareness organization, in honor of Colonel Christopher J. Wilson, USAR retired, who collapsed from a heart attack 2.6 miles from the 2018 Hawk Marathon finish line.
In the summer of 2018, ultrarunner Harvey Lewis attempted to run the Appalachian Trail faster than anyone in history. With his 78-year-old father as crew chief, Lewis raced across 14 different states and more than 2,100 miles in his quest to reach a new record. He fell short of the FKT, but what developed was a father-son story for the ages.
Spring 2020 offers a fresh take on two established road models in the HOKA ONE ONE lineup: the Elevon 2 and Mach 3. Both pairs are road and track models that have similar geometry, but otherwise are significantly different in their build and the athletes they will likely appeal to.
This race tested me like no other. A perfect storm of being undertrained, recovering from an injury, my own ignorance of the course and a little too much confidence in my abilities, left me a complete mess as I finally crossed the finish line 21 minutes before the cutoff.
The Plain Endurance Runs require that participants be self-sufficient for their chosen distance (100-mile or 100k)—there are no aid stations. The event is held on standard mountain trails with typical trail junction signs, but the course is not marked, requiring the runner to simply follow a map and associated directions.
This product is a new take on the traditional puffy jacket, using hybrid insulating material in a body-mapped approach, with large ventilation channels in the back. It’s suitable as an outer layer for a cold winter run or hike, but equally as capable for everyday use.
We all face villains in both life and running, and we all have those climatic moments when it would be easier to quit than to keep moving forward. But we all have the ability to be heroes if we work hard, believe in ourselves and help out others along the way. So in 2020, be sure to write your own story and help someone else write theirs.
Jim Walmsley is the Ultrarunner of the Year for 2019. This is the fourth year in a row that he has won the men’s honor, a feat only previously accomplished by Tom Johnson (1992-1995). Walmsley’s year was topped by a 14:09:28 course record at the venerable Western States 100 and a world record 50-mile time of 4:50:08 at the Project X Invitational. He also won the Santa Barbara Nine Trails 35 Mile in course record time, Norway’s Ultravasan 90k, and the inaugural Fast 50 (Mile) in Hong Kong. Walmsley lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, with his girlfriend, Jessica.
Clare Gallagher is ranked second in the UROY voting for 2019. Gallagher won the Western States 100 in 17:23:25, the second-fastest time ever posted. She also won the highly competitive Way Too Cool 50K and was eighth at The North Face Endurance Challenge. An ardent environmental advocate, Gallagher lives in Boulder, Colorado.
Jared Hazen is ranked third in the UROY voting for 2019. Hazen placed second at Western States in 14:26:46, a time that was under the previous course record, only to be second to his roommate and training partner, Jim Walmsley. He also placed second at the Santa Barbara Nine Trails 35 Mile, in a time that was under the previous course record, only to be second to his roommate and training partner, Jim Walmsley. Hazen also won the über-competitive Lake Sonoma 50, where his winning time of 6:08:31 was the third fastest in race history. Hazen lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Camille Herron is ranked fourth in the voting for 2019. Herron broke her own world record with a startling 167.842 miles while winning the IAU World Championship in Albi, France. She also won the Tarawera 100 Mile in New Zealand, setting a course record. In an up and down year, Herron suffered DNFs at Lake Sonoma, Comrades and Western States. A native of Oklahoma, Herron and her husband, Conor, recently moved to Alamosa, Colorado.
Jeff Browning is ranked fifth in the voting for 2019. One of the most consistent runners in recent years, Browning won the Bear 100, Tarawera 100 Mile in New Zealand and finished ninth at Western States. A coach and graphic designer, Browning, his wife Jennifer and their three kids recently moved to Bozeman, Montana.
Brittany Peterson is sixth in the 2019 UROY voting. She won the Bandera 100K to earn a golden ticket to Western States, where she finished a strong second. Later in the summer, she was fourth at the Tromsø SkyRace in Norway. A native of Minnesota, Peterson teaches occupational therapy at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho.
Olivier Leblond checks in at number seven for 2019. Leblond won the Umstead 100 and Old Dominion 100, and placed third at the IAU World 24-Hour Championship with a stellar 171 miles – the second best mark in U.S. history. An IT contractor by day, Leblond lives in Arlington, Virginia.
At first, Escape from the Jungle, which will take place in the deep jungle of Belize during February 24–March 7, appeared to be an insanely dangerous event. The first week is called “Jungle Survival Training,” and local guides will follow each runner during the actual race, making sure participants will not…die.
Addie Bracy checks in as number eight in 2019. Bracy had a strong and consistent year, with podium finishes at Way Too Cool, Lake Sonoma 50 and The North Face Endurance Challenge. She also won the Quad Rock 50 and was ninth at Western States. Bracy lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her partner Corey, and recently completed a graduate program in sports and performance psychology at the University of Denver.
Matt Daniels is the ninth ranked runner in the 2019 Ultrarunner of the Year voting. After a DNF at the Bandera 100K in January, Daniels destroyed a deeply talented field while winning the Black Canyon 100K in February and receiving a golden ticket to Western States, where he finished fourth in his debut 100-miler. A Navy veteran and former All-American track standout at Adams State, Daniels lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his new bride, Lauren.
Amanda Basham is the 10th ranked woman for 2019. She won three races and placed second at the highly competitive Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix (CCC) 101k race in the Alps. Originally from Oregon, she now lives in Manitou Springs, Colorado.
The big news for Surf the Murph, now in its 11th year, was co-mingling with the Savage 100 this time around for a plethora of racing options. The Savage 100 had been held five years prior and was making another appearance for runners who wanted 100k or even better, 100 miles of autumn bliss at Murphy-Hanrehan Park in Savage, Minnesota.
The morning of August 3, 2019, I set off to encircle Mt. St. Helens – the mountain that provided me with the most important event of my life. Its cataclysm forged a bond between boy and father so deep that decades of estrangement, alcohol, shame, failure, fear and disease could not destroy it.