For the past three years, I’ve been volunteering for the running club at my kids’ school. Kindergartners through fifth graders have the option of using their recess to run laps instead of play on the playground. Some of them choose to run a couple, while others run as many laps as they possibly can in their 20 minutes of free time.
For every four laps they complete, each child earns a small “foot” charm – a little incentive for the kids to keep running. We hand these feet out like candy because the kids are so motivated to continue. Seeing the smiles on their faces and hearing the excitement in their voices, “I only have two more laps until I get a foot!” makes it all worthwhile. Even some of the teachers have started to come out during their short break away from students and run alongside them. Many of these kids will go on to run a full marathon distance or more during the school year because they love to run, and it’s inspiring to see these future runners cultivate their love of the sport.
Elite athletes create their own waves of inspiration, which is why our Ultrarunners of the Year (UROY) issue is so important. 2018 was an incredible year for the sport of ultrarunning. Not only were some of the most notable course records broken, but world records were set by both men and women. Every year athletes are running farther and faster, and to call them inspiring would be a bit of an understatement. But as evident in the number of ultra finishes which soared well past 113,000 this year, it’s obvious more people are curious as to what the human body is capable of achieving.
Not only does this UROY issue highlight the sport’s top athletes, but incredible performances and stats are summed up for comparison to previous years. We’ve also given you closer looks into the training of our UROY winners with Jason Koop’s How They Did It, starting on page 10. There’s no doubt that some amazing feats are included in the notable Fastest Known Times of the Year by Buzz Burrell on page 64, and Taylor Nowlin talks about her recent FKT in the Grand Canyon on page 72. Because this issue is a culmination of 12 months of ultrarunning, we’d be remiss if we didn’t ask ‘Tropical John’ Medinger to pen his Year in Review on page 18. With all of these inspiring efforts, we had to include a story on Pete Kostelnick’s 5,300-mile, self-supported trek from Kenai, Alaska, to Key West, Florida, on page 14.
Coming up in UltraRunning this year, we’ve got quite a few familiar names returning as columnists, as well some new writers who you’ll probably recognize. As always, we value your feedback and have taken your comments from our reader survey with genuine consideration.
However you find it, I hope you’re inspired to train for something amazing this year, whether it’s a race or an adventure run. Thank you for your continued support as we look to the year ahead.