Drama. It’s essentially people facing challenges with uncertain outcomes. In good drama there’s always conflict and a “crisis” to be overcome… or not. The best drama elicits strong emotional responses from those watching it unfold. Drama in many forms is everywhere in our entertainment- and stimulation-obsessed society. With modern-day conveniences and technology it’s hard to find real drama in everyday life. So people consume it as served up by the media and professional sports, and the thirst for it seems unquenchable.
If you tune in to the television news cycle, you can count on a steady flow of drama. Whether it’s a baby being rescued from a well, a traffic pileup during the morning commute or the radar blips on the “storm tracker.” Not to mention all the drama on TV and radio generated by debaters and haters across our highly polarized political spectrum.
Then there’s reality television that features fabricated Survivors, Bachelors and Real Housewives, which are anything but real. Like fast food, drama is artificially created and heartily consumed. I thought I had seen everything in this genre until we stumbled upon a new Bravo show about real people watching and responding to reality TV shows. It’s mouth-watering stuff.
If reality TV isn’t your thing, there are big time sports. World Cup soccer captivated nearly every corner of the globe last month. And can you say Super Bowl? So many Americans are addicted to the NFL that a 30-second ad spot now sells for over a million dollars. And what about “fantasy” sports? After your fantasy draft, you “participate” in the drama by owning players on your team.
Sadly, I confess to being a consumer of all the foregoing drama. But it always leaves me feeling empty and unsatisfied.
Fortunately, there is ultrarunning, which serves up the best and most satisfying drama to be found anywhere. Between the start and finish of an ultramarathon nobody knows what’s going to happen. But for certain it will be real, and epic.
Last month at Western States 100 there was extraordinary drama unfolding, and it wasn’t star Hollywood actors or megamillion-dollar athletes. Whether it was the men’s favorite, striving to avenge his only “non-win” during his Ultrarunner of the Year body of work from 2013, or a rookie at the 100-mile distance dominating the women’s field, or the original “Grand Slammer” from 1986 compelling his body toward the finish line with only minutes to spare in mile 99, striving for his tenth WS100 finish. Or the other 373 runners who departed Squaw Valley on foot at 5 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, all of whom were immersed in genuine dramas all their own.
Whether you participate in an ultramarathon directly as a runner, crew, pacer, volunteer or otherwise, our sport now has some wonderful live media coverage that streams the unfolding events in real time. iRunFar, Ultra Sports Live TV and UltraLive.net were closely covering and documenting Western States in great detail for mass consumption of this worthy drama.
The entrepreneurs and hardworking, talented people behind these ventures are a boon for the sport, and remind us that we are entering a new golden era of ultrarunning. And with a nod to reality media, you can find our coverage of others covering the sport on page 37 of this issue. It’s good stuff.
Also in this recovery-themed issue, you will find a lot of great content about how to recover from the wear and tear of ultrarunning so that you can remain healthy, and improve and enjoy the sport more. We kick it off with a comprehensive review of recovery products. Sarah Koszyk delves into the science behind recovery and highlights the ingredients and features of the myriad recovery products now on the market for endurance athletes.
In Ask Ann we get a treatise on blister management and prevention, plus many of Ann’s great tips on the “little things” that make for successful ultrarunning. Ellie provides a thorough overview on the topic of cross training – so now we know what helped bring her back from injury to an epic come-from-behind win at Comrades in June. Ian gives us step-by-step guidance on how to recover from a big race – something like another top 10 at Western States? And Michael Wardian, the ultrarunner who makes the rest of us look like 10kers, checks in with keen insights on how to handle big volume. We also have a great piece on Pilates for runners – a great tool for injury prevention and improved running economy.
And there’s more great content from our regular columnists with a review of a magical 100 in Kansas, and deep dives into Faith and Science, For The Challenge, Going ‘Abo’ and Costumes. At The Races digs deep into Western States 100 and chronicles ultra drama at many other great races too.
August is a great month for ultrarunning drama too. Drink it in!