Why would a 23-year-old want to run 100-miles? Because working towards a goal larger than life and crushing it just slingshot my life into overdrive.
In August 2015, on the sixth day of a cycling trip from Vienna, Austria to Venice, Italy, a dog ran into my bicycle and the resulting concussion changed our lives.
Because Patsy’s focus in training and racing was not on the numbers, the splits or the race plan, but rather on the health and well-being of others, she surpassed previously held notions of her own personal limits. Because she knew that as the only woman from Puerto Rico to have ever run 100 miles, that she could inspire her people to endure and come together, Patsy was able to run better than ever.
Covering a lot of distance on foot is what ultrarunning is all about. And one of the best ways to do it is to just set aside a full day and pick an audacious route that traverses beautiful natural places.
Recently some friends and I did just that – the fabled Rim to Rim to Rim of the Grand Canyon.
A friend asked me, “Why would you enter a 100-mile ultramarathon? It just seems so outlandish for an otherwise rational thinking person to wish to endure such torture.” My answer was long and he seemed to understand when I was finished. It is my soul that I am searching for out there in the midst of what you called torture.
Participation in mountain, ultra and trail (MUT) races continues to grow by leaps and bounds each year. However, many people in the sport have little understanding of the role that USA Track & Field (USATF) plays in the MUT world. As a MUT representative with USATF and a member of multiple US Teams for World Championships, my goal with this article is to shed some light on that relationship and its history, as well as the history and structure of various World Championships in MUT.
Do I trust myself to do the training, to put in the hours required? To show up for myself, even if that means pulling the plug when my ego really doesn’t want to? Do I trust myself to not listen to the brain when it says “Stop!” when it is only pain, and not actually debilitating? Do I trust myself to know the difference?
Rules; who likes ’em? Nobody.
Who needs ’em? Everybody.
Running ultras is supposed to be fun. The last thing we want to deal with is having a bunch of rules to worry about. Unfortunately, ultrarunning is practiced by humans. And, without rules, some of those humans are bound to take liberties with what might seem innately obvious.
Without trails our sport would not exist. Sure there are road ultras and many “trail” ultras entail portions along fireroads, tow paths, running tracks and, gasp, even pavement. But if you look at the most popular and iconic ultras, they all include some epic trails. So yes, we need them.
Whether you’re an ultrarunner, a musician, or in my case, both – you’re never ready for The Call when you get The Call.
There are many things about ultrarunning that are hard to describe, and even harder to understand. The Spartathlon, a 153-mile race from Athens to Sparta, is one of them.
This is the story of how our running club developed a comprehensive trail work program that we call TrailFit. Each year we clear brush on 25 miles of trail, remove over 150 downed trees, and contribute more than 1,500 volunteer hours on trails in the San Diego mountains while overseeing maintenance on 150+ miles of trails.
You’re not supposed to look good after you run a hundred miles. Didn’t matter. It was still the worst race finish photo I had ever taken, yet it was the most important one. It was the singular moment when all the training, the doubts, the worries, the planning, was about to give way to relief, triumph and pure joy.
Many comparisons have been made to modern-day ultrarunners and the Pioneers who crossed the continent in covered wagons back in the 1840s and 1850s. The Pioneers risked everything and took on a massively arduous 2,000-mile trek, often for a dream or nebulous “better life” out west. As with ultrarunners, a common question from onlookers was: “why?”
Let’s face it, ultrarunning is a really difficult activity. It requires a huge time and lifestyle commitment. But many people are attracted, like moths to flame, to the opportunity to do something epic. And often once they do a few ultras they realize there is a steep learning curve and they achieve faster, and faster, times. Soon, they are pulled into the drive to reach their highest potential by racing ultras – they are all-in.
It all started when I was a teenager. I would see people out “going for a jog” and it looked so carefree and enjoyable. I wanted to be able to do it.