There’s something about standing on the side of the highway in Iceland hitchhiking with your wife that has a way of bringing you together. We stood there in the kind of storm where at any moment it will literally start raining cats and dogs.
Deutschlandlauf (translation: Germany Run) travels the length of Germany from north to south in a giant, S-shaped route, starting at sea level on the German island of Sylt at the Danish border, and ending at the highest point in Germany on the Austrian border—820 miles over 19 days.
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.
The Trail Verbier St. Bernard is a series of trail races in the mountains surrounding Verbier, Switzerland. The X-Alpine race at 110 kilometers is the longest race with the Grand Traversée being the next longest in the series at about 65k and just under 14,000 net gain.
An 85-kilometer, point-to-point race in the remote mountains near Westport, New Zealand. The race’s entire 53 miles are run on a brand new trail called the Old Ghost Road, its isolation is so complete that from start to finish, one does not cross a road or another trail.
This run in Nicaragua takes you over two volcanos while traveling around the island of Ometepe completing tasks that imitate daily local Nicaraguan life. It forces you to adapt to the challenges you face as you run 60 miles through a brutal course and the chances are that you will not finish.
Anyone who has traveled into the Grand Canyon understands the great immensity of what they have entered into. You don’t really go into the canyon, it swallows you whole.
As the dust begins to settle from the the massive earthquake that struck near my New Zealand home and the tragic loss of a running friend in a motor vehicle accident, I have the space to pause and reflect on a bright spot of the last week: the 71km Queen Charlotte Ultramarathon.
The thunderstorm abruptly ended and I stepped out onto the cobblestone street toward the start line of the Lavaredo Ultra Trail in the historic plaza in the center of Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy below the looming belltower that would soon toll 11 p.m. and our departure up into the mountains above town.
Morocco conjures images of crowded souks, piles of spices, rolls of carpet, elaborate lampshades and incomprehensible bartering – these were the sights of Marrakech, our arrival city. Having survived its hammer-blow to the senses, we escaped to the edge of the Sahara desert. Here we stretched our legs on the first day with a half marathon though sleepy villages.
It all started about 10 years ago while visiting the Grand Canyon National Park with my wife. We took a quick look at the majestic canyon, did the touristy things, bought souvenirs and then drove back to Phoenix. I always carried this sense of guilt inside me, always knew that somehow I had violated the grandeur of that place by not even setting foot in its entrails!
We had been running through the desert of Baja California for 17 hours. Despite being followed by armed police, obsessing about water and losing a couple of runners to injury, it had been a great day so far. All that quickly changed once the sun went down.
On a Sunday morning in early March, an eclectic group of runners make their way into a small, crowded kitchen on top of Mt. LeConte. The LeConte Lodge is closed, but we’re here at the caretaker’s invitation, readying for a day of running in the Great Smoky Mountains. We drink cowboy coffee and hastily down donuts, indulging in what would normally be off-limits pre-race food.
For many ultra runners Patagonia is a distant iconic image propagated by vivid imaginations of unscathed wild terrain and sharp edged peaks. A mysterious mountain running promised land of sorts, that has constructed itself upon years of whimsical exploration. Given Patagonia’s mystical appeal, it is no wonder why 1,638 people from all over the world traveled to the Osorno Volcano this December to run one of the various distances in the 2015 Volcano Ultra Trail (VUT) race series.
Last week, I traveled to north-central Sweden to compete in the second annual UltraVasan 90K on Saturday morning, August 22. What follows is an account of my race but also the race history, the course, and the three kings on everyone’s mind as the weekend unfolded.
Why is my first ultra story any different from the next newbie’s story? It was a double newbie scenario; I sweated through the inaugural race, which skirted through jungle hill tribes of northern Thailand, a region never before touched by any organized, international venue.