The Ultra Community
One of the greatest things about our sport is its spirit of collective effort. At ultramarathons it’s as if we are racing with, not against, each other. Maybe it’s because running so far is so daunting that people “pull together” to overcome the challenge. Or maybe it’s simply that the nature and values of people attracted to this sport selfselects for friendly, helpful people.
Seven-time Western States winner Scott Jurek is perhaps most famous for sticking around until the bitter end, cheering in and celebrating other runners. For him that could mean hanging out at the finish line for almost 15 hours after his race is over. As an ultrarunner myself, one of the best things about the sport is how approachable and helpful front of the pack elites have always been. I remember before the 2009 Western States being freaked out as I watched the weather report that week – the forecast high temperatures started in the 90s and kept going up as the week progressed. Finally it said 109 in Auburn for race day – really? I did what any ultrarunner would do; when I bumped into 25-time silver buckler and five-time winner of the race, Tim Twietmeyer. I asked: “what can I do to manage the heat tomorrow?” He did not know me from Adam but opened up and provided all sorts of advice- the most important: “always stay wet, and I mean not from perspiration, whenever possible.” From the starting line I poured more water over my head and had a constant ice bandana around my neck all day. I ran that race inside of an evaporative refrigerator and had a PR, all because an elite runner shared his “secrets” with a newbie.
I have seen this same spirit at work since taking on UltraRunning magazine. When interviewing Ultrarunner of the Year Rob Krar we asked him how he did it, what was the key? He described his circuit training routine; the Equalizer, and the next thing you know, he submitted a detailed description with pictures and directions in the next issue of UltraRunning for all to see. Likewise, this month Zach Bitter, the fastest American ever at 100 miles, shares his “secrets” in this issue on page 20.
In ultrarunning, we are in it together, all of us, former and current racers as well as volunteers, crew, pacers and supporters. And that’s what makes our sport so special.
With summer season heating up, this is our ‘race issue’ and it is chock full of race-related content, starting with Sunny Blende’s review of endurance fuel. A seemingly simple topic has become incredibly large and complex, and Sunny breaks down all the science and essential details of the ever-growing fuel category for us in a comprehensive and understandable work. In her Ask Ann Column, Ann Trason addresses two great race-related queries for us. Ellie Greenwood provides keen insights on a way to make your year in ultrarunning successful via midyear assessment and review. In From the Coach, Ian Sharman introduces us to the benefits of weight vest training – a great training tool for ultras.
In Ultra History, Science and Lore we have some fun and informative content – don’t miss Gary Dudney’s piece on hallucinations during ultras- if it wasn’t so eerie it would be funny. Gary Cantrell’s piece about stepping back from the ledge of ultra commitment is something we can all relate to as well. In a deeply introspective piece, Joe Uhan shares how one can forge personal identity and bond with family through his experiences at Western States 100. Also, there’s the new Ultra Medical Team, a great resource for the ultrarunning community.
Here at UltraRunning we have been grappling with a tough decision – how to deal with the growth of the sport and the ever-increasing number of race results? This issue is expanded to 96 pages, and we still don’t have room to print race results for all of the covered races. This was particularly challenging with the longtime classic, AR50, which had over 800 finishers. We consulted with the race director and a group of long-time ultrarunners about what to do. The feedback was unanimous, and true to the spirit of the sport: either print all finishers, or none. Without creating a telephone book, there wasn’t room for all, so we have provided a special area on our website for race results, as well as other great race reports. We hope to develop this portion of the website further into a more helpful resource for the ultrarunning community. Our sport is booming, and being unable to print all race reports and results in UltraRunning magazine is one of the few negatives of its increasing popularity.
At the Races has coverage of 25 ultras, with great race reports and photos, as well as a profile of two runners who rocked two large and prestigious 50 milers in a six-month period: Zach Miller and Emily Harrison.
In The UltraLife read about the Buckle, and we also have Western States top 10 predictions from two very qualified individuals. And don’t miss Dean’s column on Pushing Through the Lows; it is entertaining and has great tips on how to break through when things go south as they inevitably do. If this issue is too long for you, Rocket’s Rants is in mile 99 and will get you home, as he adeptly addresses the issue of burnout in ultras.
Summer is here, have fun and enjoy your ultra racing!