Ultrarunning is a trip

Date: 11/22/22

Having only completed a mere two ultras, I am by no means an expert. However, since I initially set my sights on completing a 100-miler I have lurked in and perused many online ultrarunning communities. Let me tell you what, ultrarunners can be crazy.

One guy knocked out a 100-miler in 25 hours after only averaging about a dozen miles a week in the months leading up to the race. People randomly sign up for ultras and run them without training just because their friend invited them to a race. Ultrarunners do shots at aid stations and finish in a reasonable time. They idolize the Chinese dude who chain-smoked throughout a marathon and finished in 3.5 hours.

Once upon a time, I thought this was all insane. How can people barely train and knock out ultras? How do they willy nilly sign up for races just for fun? How can they celebrate DNFs?

I finally get it. Let me rephrase that. I’m not sure how other ultrarunners work, but I’m figuring out how I work as an ultrarunner.

When I first tossed around the idea of doing ultras, and ultimately a 100-miler, it was to see what my body was capable of. Training for my first ultra, the Beaverhead 55k, opened my eyes.

Once it finally warmed up enough for me to run outside with my COVID lungs, I started doing Lost Souls routes for training. I loved the different places each route took me. I soaked up all the views and enjoyed the challenging climbs and bushwhacking. During Beaverhead, the breathtaking views made up for my tired legs and hurting shoulders. And afterward, I wasn’t nearly as sore as I thought I would be.

Training for Dead Horse was even more amazing than doing Lost Souls routes. My long runs took me to gorgeous and sometimes remote locations. Sure, some of them I could have easily day hiked, but there was something about seeing so much beauty so much quicker than hiking. While I was out there I didn’t feel like I was training. At the end of each run, I felt amazing even if I was exhausted.

Folks suggested I skip Dead Horse because of my jankle and feeling a wee under the weather. But I could not imagine missing the opportunity to experience the course. I mean, I had ten hours to go a mere 50k! I could hike it in that time! Is this how ultrarunners talk themselves into running an ultra with little to no training?

A couple of days after Dead Horse, Mad Moose Events sent an email about Bears Ear Ultra. To be honest, I had already looked at the race and considered signing up. The race description boasted a rugged course with out-of-this-world views and a generous 15-hour cutoff. After asking the ultrarunners of reddit about Bears Ear and learning of their wonderful experiences, I signed up. Is this why ultrarunners randomly sign up for races?

I don’t care what my finish time is. I don’t care if I even finish (though waiting around to get carted off the course doesn’t sound appealing). I don’t care how much it will hurt if I don’t train enough. All I want is to experience the course. Then why not do it unsupported?

Races are where it’s at. First of all, there’s swag. And a medal. Also, the aid stations at ultras are fabulous. There’s usually not a gel pack in sight. Instead, there are potato chips, PB&Js, and mini candy bars. The volunteers aren’t just there to keep the aid station stocked. They are there to help you in any possible way to make your race better. Last but not least, there are the people. Other racers are so encouraging and supportive of each other.

Although the training for an ultra can be brutally time-consuming, I honestly can’t imagine not running them anymore. I used to think all you had to do to be an ultrarunner was run an ultra. Now, I think an ultrarunner is someone who runs ultras because they love it. I’m proud to say that I think of myself as an ultrarunner.


Christina View All →

Endlessly seeking adventure.

4 Comments Leave a comment

  1. a friend named Hiro, he runs 100 mile, 124K, 136K ultras almost seemingly every weekend or every other weekend, sometimes he finishes, sometimes he doesn’t, some just end up being training for the next…i understand it…I just like running…

    Liked by 1 person

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