With the growth of ultrarunning has come the increased popularity of 100 mile races, with 152 different “hundos” in our North American Ultra Calendar for 2016. Everyone seems to be doing them. But in fact, that is hardly the case, with only 8% of all ultra finishes and a total of only 6,216 people completing the distance. That is roughly .00175% of the North American population. No matter how commonplace it seems to be, 100 miles on foot is, indeed, 100 miles.
In modern society, with ubiquitous technology making life easier, and media streaming all forms of drama and entertainment 24/7, the opportunity and inclination for us as individuals to do something truly epic is becoming scarcer all the time. In fact recent surveys indicate that Americans average over 10 hours in front of an electronic screen every day – up from roughly 9.5 hours last year. Netflix makes it all too easy to overload on customized content. With live TV we are inundated with spectator sports and the trials and tribulations of professional athletes, and the newest trend captivating viewers on Bravo is reality TV shows about… other reality TV shows (no kidding).
Somewhere, Teddy Roosevelt is watching in horror, and his sentiments over 100 years ago resonate today:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man [or woman]who is actually in the arena, whose…place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Ultrarunning, and especially 100 mile races, are an antidote and an avenue to “dare greatly,” overcome fears and forge authentic experiences. There is still time to select, sign up and train for a fall 100 miler. Or build a bridge to your first 100 in 2017 by doing some 50ks, 50-milers or 100ks this fall. You can do it.
I think Teddy Roosevelt would be an ultrarunner if he lived today. In fact – he also has a quotation perfect for ultrarunners, too: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Those are words to live by in the dark moments of a 100 miler.
This issue has some truly inspirational stories from 100 mile races, including reports from Western States and the San Diego 100 and. Be sure to check those out, and maybe they will inspire you to step up to the 100-mile distance, too. And if you’ve recently completed your own hundred and are dealing with the aftermath, check out Ann Trason’s article on how she handles the post-race blues. This issue also dives deep into gels, and has great stuff on sleeping, striding and other tricks of the trade.