Recent accomplishments by ultrarunners are re-setting the bar at levels never before imagined. Every week it seems there are more audacious headlines – the PCT record smashed by 6 days; a new FKT on the John Muir Trail; 13-year-old Double Badwater record eclipsed; two intrepid ultrarunners complete six 100-mile races in 13 weeks; new American records set for six-day and two-day runs… This summer also saw the first male to ever “double dip” by winning both the Western States and Leadville 100s (yes, Ann Trason did do that one already, three times). Meanwhile, course records are falling left and right, recently and notably at Hardrock and the Tahoe Rim Trail 100. And the hits just keep coming.
Our sport is in a Golden Age of increasing participation and achievement. More and more driven elite athletes are going beyond what was thought possible. But regardless of the headline achievements, what makes our sport special is that every participant, every finish, is extraordinary, even if you are new to the sport and you are “just getting it done.”
Take inspiration from the jaw-dropping headlines to set and embrace your own ultra goals, whatever they are. For it is the process of pushing the limits of what is possible, for any of us, usually in nature and with friends or loved ones, that is the essence of the sport. And we all can relate to that.
As Marshall Ulrich, the legendary distance runner who counts the entire United States itself as one of his race distances, once said: “Never stop setting goals, even as you age.” The process of setting goals and going after them gives meaning to life in a way that nothing else can. And the bigger the goal, the more it grabs you. I have found that it’s the all-out “going for it” that puts a real purpose in life, and makes everything right with the world. Author of geeky books about business, including Good to Great, Jim Collins researches and writes about the most successful and greatest companies out there. He identified great businesses as those that set, as he calls them, Big Hairy Audacious Goals, or “BHAGs.” Collins argues that every company should set BHAGs that align with their passion, core skill set and economic model.
As with companies, every person can also set their own goals for achieving greatness. Make sure to keep setting goals for yourself, big and audacious ones, and if you are feeling really motivated, add some hair to them too!
In this issue we have a lot of great content to help you achieve your goals, including food choices, choosing the best shoes, racing strategies, recovery and even how to crawl your way into the record books. Our race reports provide plenty of detailed and gripping accounts of ultrarunning feats last summer, plus plenty of great photos. We hope you enjoy it all, as the fall running season envelops you in its waning but glowing light, illuminating some of nature’s most beautiful colors and guiding you as you pursue your goals.