Author Archives: Joe Uhan
When I began this column two years ago, the intent was to bring the historic roots of ultras to today’s newest ultrarunning readers. Driven by the value of sustainability, the notion was to help new runners avoid re-inventing the wheel: to learn the lessons without having to experience, first-hand, the painful mistakes that befell our predecessors.
Today’s aid stations, especially at majors like Western States, are staffed by folks who are often veteran ultrarunners, have decades of experience and are as skilled as they come at meeting runners’ needs.
Sure, runners can get snarky in the heat of the moment—at race officials or at their own crew and pacers when things don’t go their way. But this has more to do with the stress of the event, and having their needs (however illogical or self-entitled they may be) properly met.
Ultrarunning is growing. Growth is good, but growth can be painful. With the rapid growth of trail ultrarunning, there is a confluence of forces: on the lands that support us; on race directors who balance the needs of the trails, the volunteers and the runner; and on the runners themselves to commit, train, prepare for and ultimately execute what everyone tells them will be a Zen-like, transformational experience.
A novel new addition to race week at this year’s Western States Endurance Run was the first-ever Medicine & Science in Ultra-Endurance Sports Conference. Medical research is one of the three pillars of the Western States Foundation Mission, and the formulation of a research conference in conjunction with the race has been in the works for several years.
In early March, for the first time in nearly eight years, I started coaching high school running. Coaching high school track and cross-country a dozen years ago – and the frustration of seeing my kids injured – first inspired me to leave behind my career as a laboratory chemist and become a physical therapist. But,