The Wall Street Journal published an article this week stoking a debate within the ultra-running community, about using Marijuana. On the surface it’s an easy question to answer: THC is a performance enhancing drug and is illegal over specified levels in competition, so using it is cheating. Cheating is unethical. Case closed.
I have noticed non-runners beginning to lump all ultrarunners into one homogenous group – a new stereotype of sorts. There are a few traits that are commonly attributed to ALL ultrarunners that I really feel are inaccurate. To set the record straight, here are some of the most egregious ones.
Florida (and the East Coast) are increasingly-becoming known for something else. I know it’s gone largely-unnoticed: While all of you West Siders in Tupac-Land have been eagerly awaiting Twitter updates from Rob Krar’s beard, Katalin Nagy, Traci Falbo, Maggie Guterl, and Aly Venti have been setting the ultrarunning world on fire this year, both here and abroad.
Last week Cory and I were in Austin, Texas for The Running Event, a tradeshow geared for running specialty retailers. A focal part of the show is the exhibition hall which featured over 100 different running products, services and brands catering to the running market.
With the ever-increasing interest in the sport of ultrarunning has come an explosion of prospective entrants for certain races. This popularity has race directors resorting to lotteries, wait lists and other measures, in some cases just short of asking entrants for their firstborn for entry into their events.
Don’t know why I’m struggling with this one. I need to get a grip. Remind myself. It’s not like I’m putting the family cat down. And how would I know what that’s like anyway? We don’t even have a cat. I’m talking about a pair of shoes here. And wondering, when is it time to say goodbye?
If we avoid injury for many years, at some point, time and age catch up to us, and a decade later, something gives out. For me, this was my left ankle, and the real culprit was excessive abuse in my teens and 20s at other sports. But ultimately after a few DNFs and pain with every step I opted for surgery on April 23, 2013, a day I’ll never forget.
For the uninitiated, for those who marvel at the idea that 50 or 100 miles of continuous running is possible, the phrase “I could never do that” is often an instant, almost involuntary reaction. “I could never do that” precedes a second common reaction, “I can barely run a 5k.” Despite how frequently I hear this reaction, it still gives me pause and makes me wonder: Why, after all, are people so fixated on finishing an ultramarathon, when the road to the starting line is where most of the journey takes place?
I’m not going to give my story or my excuses, or place blame or defend myself. I didn’t finish. Those are the only words it needs. I didn’t finish, and I went home crying in the middle of the night, showered crying in the middle of the night and fell asleep crying and cramping in the middle of the night. When I woke up, I told my family and apologized. I was embarrassed and ashamed and exhausted, physically and emotionally.
One of the greatest things about our sport is its spirit of collective effort. At ultramarathons it’s as if we are racing with, not against, each other. Maybe it’s because running so far is so daunting that people “pull together” to overcome the challenge. Or maybe it’s simply that the nature and values of people attracted to this sport selfselects for friendly, helpful people.
Few races in our sport are as eagerly anticipated or widely followed as Western States 100. Maybe that’s because it’s the first 100, or the deep and elite field. Or that it’s the culmination of the Montrail Ultra Cup. Or maybe it’s because of the incredible tradition and history of the trail itself, coupled with the amazing volunteers and best-in-class race organization. Most likely, it’s all of the above.
At first glance, the North American all-time fastest road ultramarathon list looks like a time capsule: names and times from decades past, seemingly frozen in time. The bulk of those fastest- ever road and track performances were all logged over 20 years ago. In fact, the most recent entry onto the USA Top Ten list for the 50-mile distance was etched in 1990.
The following is an addendum to Joe Uhan’s April column, “Volunteerism & Running Longevity” Locally, Craig Thornley was the first…