“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
As with many ultrarunner origin stories, Brandon Miller’s running career started as a cross country speed demon in his home town of Barrie, Ontario. After high school, as he began a demanding college course load in Mechanical Engineering at Queens University in Ontario, priorities shifted and running took a far second to his studies.
With each passing year, it’s a race we know we shouldn’t be running. But often, against our better judgment, knowing full well the runner we were last year, or 10 years ago, or 20 years ago could be far different from who we are today, we run it anyway.
When the whole picture is taken into account, Walmsley’s story starts to make more sense. In 2014, when he started to dabble in trail and ultra races, he was also working 24-hour shifts underground in an Air Force base in Great Falls, MT.
In late 2015, Devon Yanko returned to the top of the ultrarunning ranks in style at the Javelina Jundred. She finished the 100-mile race through the desert in a blazing 14:52:06, first woman and second place overall. This was also the third-fastest trail 100 mile ever run by an American woman.
Junko’s inherent courage has led her to a life of taking on challenges that others have often advised against. In 2015, the brave 52-year-old two-time cancer survivor tackled something that no one else had ever done, completing the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning and the Leadwoman series in the same calendar year.
There are certain women in our sport who can go by their first names. Ann, Ellie, Kami, Darcy – these are just a few of our Madonnas of ultrarunning, if you will. Nikki, Rory, Liza – the list goes on – Pam, Anna and Camille.
Now, If you find yourself saying, Camille who?, you certainly won’t be for long.