Aid stations are a critical component of ultras. They serve as not only the lifeline for many runners, but are also a telling reflection of a caring community. They are composed of volunteers giving hours and most importantly driving energy to runners intent on achieving what to many may seem ludicrous.
“Since when is running 40 miles in under 6 hours the mark of a failure?” my wife asked me — for about the fifth time. I didn’t respond. I was sitting in our hotel room in a sort of depressed fog, the product of cramped hamstrings, blistered feet, mild heat exhaustion and a strong case of self-commiseration.
“When the race is 50 miles,” I finally answered.
It’s universally understood that there’s nothing easy about running and racing ultra distances. The mastery the headspace is more important to cultivate than the training miles that we put in in pursuit of ultra glory. If we come up short, we sometimes think that had we trained more, or harder, then maybe our outcome might have been better, when what really mattered was our mental and psychological approach to the task.
Long-time RD and Texas ultrarunning insititution Joe Prusaitis recently announced the sale of his well-known and highly regarded ultra races, including the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler and the Bandera 100k to new owners Chris and Krissy McWatters. We asked Joe if he would be willing to share a bit of his story with us.
It was Easter Sunday in March 2008, and he was unable to fit into the restaurant booth at a family gathering. Bill Clements was nearly 30 years old, and this was his wakeup call. He had always enjoyed being in nature and the idea that he was physically fit and able to enjoy himself on various outings and adventures, but now, with 250 pounds on his 5 foot 9 inch frame, he knew that something had to change. Two years later Bill completed his first 50k
What am I doing here? And why did I decide that this was the race to “go for it?” Now I just wish I were at home between my own sheets with hyperactive bladder and bowels and cold sweaty feet and hands. Most of all, I wish that tomorrow held something other than an early rise and a day of exceedingly painful effort. Ah, well. close the eyes, breath deeply, and please, please, go to sleep.