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.
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.
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.
Imagine waking up to a sunrise in a new place every morning with the next adventure waiting around the corner. This is the life of Amy Margolis and David Wilson. Van life has taken them all over the United States for the past two years.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
If you’ve been running ultras for the past few years, there’s a good chance you’ve picked up a BOCO hat. The Boulder, Colorado-based company designs custom hats for endurance athletes that are constructed with moisture-wicking fabrics and technical innovation.
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.
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.”
“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.