Ultra Running

The ultramarathon is not just a strange little cult, but a full-fledged counterculture. It is not just different from the conventional running world, but deliberately removed from that world, separate and apart.  

Where mainstream runners worship speed, the ultra-marathon is all about distance. Where the big urban marathon is premised on sunny middle-class optimism, physical fitness and personal growth, the ultramarathon is about limits and the virtues of stoicism. Where marathons are built around community and crowds and cheers, ultramarathons are about being alone. Even Thoreau's most famous line about marching to the beat of a different drummer has found it's place in the super distance vocabulary. Forget everyone else, ultramarathoners invariably say, and "run your own race". It's just you against the course, you against yourself, you against everything that tells you to give up. Reject the world and look within. Every living thing responds to quality.

From To the Edge, by Kirk Johnson

 A 25 word summary: The factors that spell success in a first long trail race are:

  1. The weekly long run.

  2. Consistency in training (i.e., rarely skipping more than two scheduled days of running unless you're ill). You can race 50 KM if you are averaging 20 miles/week; 50 miles if averaging 30 miles/week.

  3. Proper strategy during the race:  
    (a) eating - Start energy replacement right away - including some protein, and electrolytes
    (b) run/walk ratio - walking at least 2 of every 10 minutes will enable you to go farther and eventually faster.
    (c) proper foot care.

A set of commandments for ultrarunners......
1.  Get your butt out the door and go run.
2.  You don't get silver belt buckles for running.
3.  The race director is not to be questioned.
4.  Take a day off each week to recuperate.
5.  Thank the RD and volunteers for all they have given you.
6.  Be kind and gentle with others; it was you who incorrectly packed your drop bag.
7.  It's your own fault for missing the cutoff if you try a tryst in the woods during the run.
8.  You paid your entry fee to run the course; so run the course.
9.  Don't make excuses when others, who have trained more and are better prepared, finish before you.
10. Quit bitching that the other runners had pacers, crews, mules, or something you didn't have. You ran your race, not theirs.
The 11th commandment: Thou Shalt NOT Whine! Just shut up and serve the cheese.
12. Thou shalt not allow your shorts to creep up and expose a cheek unless
you've got a really cute ass

I may be slow, but you are ugly and I can train harder.

Think nobody knows you're alive? Try missing a check point.

Tell me what you need, and I'll tell you how to get along without it. (Said by an aid station captain)


"Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense. The ultra runners know this instinctively. And they know something else that is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being -- a call that asks who they are ..."
- David Blaikie

Some ultrarunning links     Wasatch 100