Toeing the line and completing an ultramarathon is a huge accomplishment. But racing an ultra is an entirely different proposition. Both are wonderful and life changing endeavors, but since this is our racing-themed issue, we want to give props to the serious racers out there. We’re not just talking about the elites; we’re talking about anyone trying for their own personal maximum footspeed over a mappable distance.
Racing an ultra requires complete and total commitment during training and preparation. We’re talking 15 to 20 hours a week spent not just running, but also cross-training, strength training, stretching, core strengthening and more. Preparing to race for 31 to 100 miles at one’s maximum speed requires an obsessive focus on that upcoming race.
Then there’s race day – when the gun goes off, the ultra racer optimizes their effort on that first step, and every single one thereafter. If they are successful, at the finish line, it will all seem to have gone by in a brief flash of suspended, and euphoric, time. That moment when they cross the line is one of the purest celebrations of human potential.
But then the ultra racer will have to deal with the comedown. When they have to take a break and recover until they put another race on the calendar and start that cycle again.
Ultra racers, we salute you.
This issue contains many great pieces about ultra racing, beginning with John Trent’s article about one of the sport’s most influential and innovative race directors, Greg Soderlund. Soderlund not only impeccably guided the Western States 100 for over a decade, he was a major force during an era of transformative growth and popularity for our sport. Leon Lutz’ behind-the-scenes look at the director and racers of the now-famous Barkley Marathons beginning on page 48 is a well-woven story that goes beyond the media frenzy for sound-bites from Frozen Head State Park this past spring. Matt Flaherty studies one of the sport’s fiercest racers – don’t miss his piece about Zach Miller and his “method” on page 30.
Coming off his recent win at the Collegiate Peaks 50 miler, Travis Macy knows a bit about ultra racing, much of which he learned while pacing Emma Rocca to a win at the Leadville 100 a few years ago, as related in his article in this issue, Think Like a Champion. And don’t miss Zach Adams’ piece on humblebragging so you can learn how to stealthily spread the word of your racing feats on social media – or not. Either way, it is a highly entertaining read about human behavior in the digital age.
All ultrarunners are racers in the UltraRunning Race Series, which recently wrapped up its first year. Read about the overall winners as well as the 126 Regional Age Group competitions and the insights that several of the podium winners shared with us about their past year of running ultras. Check out the prize packages from Race Series Sponsors that we recently shipped out to ultrarunners across North America.
And be sure to read about what’s new for the Race Series currently underway – we’re talking prize money and a new ranking category that doesn’t require you to run all four ultra distances to be Queen or King of the 50k, 50-mile, 100k or 100-mile distances.
We hope you are enjoying the sport and the summer racing season that is in full swing. May your every run be a great one.