Browsing: Profile

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Running for Those Who Can’t: Verna Volker

During the long summer days, the sun rises before 5 a.m. in Minneapolis, Minnesota, home to the hardworking mother of four, founder of Native Women Running and ultrarunner, Verna Volker. She heads out the door for her daily morning ritual: a run towards the rising sun.

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Blue Collar Runners: Margaret Smith

Just 10 years prior to finishing third at the Laurel Highlands Ultra in Pennsylvania, alcohol was slowly killing Margaret Smith, and she knew she needed a change. So she joined the United States Army. It was the best decision she’s ever made.

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Behind the Lens: Kevin Youngblood

We caught up with Kevin Youngblood last week in the midst of what he considers to be the most pivotal moment of his life. “I’m in a truck on the Ice Age Trail at 2:30 a.m. answering questions to be featured in UltraRunning Magazine,” just as he was one day away from finishing a three-plus-week trip following Coree Woltering as he set a new FKT on the trail in 21 days, 13 hours and 35 minutes.

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Blue Collar Runners: Robert Gantz

Ten years ago, Robert Gantz had just arrived at the Little Rock Air Force Base for C-130 airplane training and his mentor and best friend, “Seabass,” asked him if he’d like to run a 10k the next day. Always up for a challenge, Robert said “Let’s do it.” He ended up placing third in his age group, and the fire was lit.

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Diamond in the Rough: Leah Yingling

The independence and freedom that running had given me since seventh grade was stripped away. I knew that getting back on my feet and leaning into running—rather than away from it—was a step forward in my recovery.

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Diamond in the Rough: Wes Judd

Illinois native and current Chicago resident Wes Judd possesses the power to turn Type 3 “never going to be fun ever” into Type 1 “always fun,” and it’s his experience using this magical ingenuity that hooked him into ultrarunning.

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Blue Collar Runners: Chad Prichard

When Chad Prichard reflects on sobriety, running and life, he pauses, “I wouldn’t want it any other way. I call it, “life without crutches” and the ability to feel everything. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but the ability to see life in a new light is a gift. I have been able to attack the traumas in my life from combat and other areas, and face my demons.”

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Diamond in the Rough: Olivia Amber

Originally from a small town of just over 1,000 people tucked away in the northwest corner of Wisconsin, Olivia Amber was a former All-American Nordic skier at Colby College and is poised to make a name for herself in 2020.

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Ultrarunner on the Rise: Lisa DeVona

The first thing you might spot when you see Lisa DeVona, is her purple ponytail. It may lead you to believe that she has superpowers, and considering how she has climbed the ultrarunning ranks over the last few years, she just might.

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Blue Collar Runners: Ruthie Loffi

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.

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Diamond in the Rough: Seth Ruhling

What initially drew Chattanooga, TN, ultrarunner Seth Ruhling into the ultrarunning community nearly a decade ago, was the allure of a finisher’s sweatshirt that told the world he ran 40 miles in one day.

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Diamond in the Rough: Kate Olson

Paramount to any race day achievements for Kate is to keep her running lighthearted and adventurous. “There are a lot of longer trails I want to start running on without a clock and a race bib next year. I have plans to do a little more fastpacking too, but the most important part of all of this is making sure it’s always fun.”

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Blue Collar Runners: Maribel Dichard

In the fall of 2014, Maribel Dichard felt herself hitting rock bottom. Outwardly, she had it all. A successful career, loving marriage and two healthy children. However, she also had a drinking problem, “I hit a point where I realized my kids could see it.” That evening, she took her last drink and quickly discovered running.

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Diamond in the Rough: Gus Gibbs

Prior to volunteering at White River 50 in 2017, Gus Gibbs’ perception of ultrarunners was that they were beyond “crazy,” but unbeknownst to him on that summer day in late July, the madness instantly became appealing. Fast forward to March 2018 and he found himself on the rainy start line of Way Too Cool for his first 50k.

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Blue Collar Runners: Vin Framularo

In 2017, Vin Framularo’s marathon plans were derailed when a snowboarding accident sent him to the emergency room with a broken back. Now he has a ritual that he follows each time he toes the starting line of a race. “I tell whomever is around me, guys, the hardest part of the race is over.”

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A Diamond in the Rough: Melissa Flores

After dabbling in half marathons during college and running two road marathons in 2018, Sacramento native and former basketball player Melissa Flores hasn’t looked back since being introduced to the trails by a friend in Santa Barbara.

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Blue Collar Runners: Meghan Slavin

“My life was pretty much gymnastics and school. We worked out in the gym 20-30 hours per week.” After a string of injuries in high school and her gymnastics days behind her, Meghan had a big void to fill. Her dad was a marathon runner, which intrigued Meghan, and at the age of 18, she decided to join him for a run.

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A Diamond in the Rough: Rod Farvard

When Rod Farvard crossed the finish line last fall at the Cuyamaca 100K in Julian, California, not only had he just finished his first 100k (his third ultramarathon), won the race and set a new course record in the process, but he thought he’d just punched his ticket to the 2019 Western States Endurance Run. Quite literally a dream come true for this 23-year-old from San Francisco.

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Blue Collar Runners: Jon Hoyt

By 2001, his life was spiraling out of control. Jon tried to commit suicide by taking a bottle of sleeping pills. “I fell asleep and woke up a couple days later in the hospital. The doctor said, ‘You should believe in God, because you shouldn’t be alive.’” It was a major turning point in his life.

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My Friend, El Campeón Ruperto Romero

Ruperto Romero had won the AC100 again, this time at 55 years old, long past the age ultrarunners are expected to remain competitive. As I looked at Ruperto, wrapped in the Mexican flag and swarmed by cameras and adoring fans, I smiled to myself. After everything I’d seen him accomplish outside the spotlight, he was finally receiving the recognition he deserved.

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Blue Collar Runners: Laura Farrell

Laura Farrell has broken barriers in the sport of ultrarunning. Her real legacy, however, began with a vision she had in the mid-1980’s. Nearly 40 years later, she has dramatically impacted thousands of lives.

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Blue Collar Runners: Jacky Hunt-Broersma

In 2001, Jacky discovered a lump on her leg. One week after her diagnosis, she was in surgery having her leg amputated. “Looking back now, it sounds really weird but I’m kind of glad it happened. It puts life in perspective, you appreciate things more. I just think I’m a better person because of what happened.”

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Blue Collar Runners: Sharon Knorr

Sharon Knorr was quiet and reserved as a child growing up in Marietta, Georgia. Early on, after receiving discouraging advice from her doctor who suggested that she not run due to her asthma, she decided she wouldn’t be held back.

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Blue Collar Runners: Hugh Tower-Pierce

Now retired from skiing and the arduous training that came with it, a thought lingered in Hugh’s mind from his old training days: “I felt like I did better the longer the distance was… maybe it was something I should explore.” It turned out Hugh’s intuition was right – and ultrarunning was the perfect match.

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Kami Semick’s Comeback: Racing Again with a Fresh Outlook

A decade ago, at 42, Kami Semick reached the pinnacle of ultrarunning. She won every race she entered in 2009, including two world championship events in the 100K and 50K, and earned UltraRunning’s Ultrarunner of the Year title for the second year in a row. But five years later, she called it quits and disappeared from the sport.

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