5 Steps to Becoming and Ultra Runner
By: Matt Mahoney
- Denial : It's easy to pretend that life ends at 26.2 miles.
How often do you see articles on ultra marathons in the mainstream running publications?
You've heard of great runners like Shorter, Barrios, Salazar, but do you know who won the
Western States 100? What do you mean you never heard of the Western States 100?
- RIDICULE -- Anyone who would run 50 or 100 miles
is missing a few screws. It's bad enough at sea level, but then they do it up and down Pike's
Peak.* Then they have races like the Badwater 146 from Death Valley (-282 ft, 125 F) to Mt.
Whitney (14,494 ft, below freezing). But even that isn't hard enough, so they add an
out-and-back version. And what kind of lunatic would dream up the Sri Chinmoy race, 2700
laps around a one-mile loop with a 62 day time limit? If you have half a mind to run ultras,
- ANGER There's NO way in HELL you'll ever get me to
run an ultra! After my last marathon, I hurt for weeks. I couldn't have run another mile if
my life depended on it. In fact, that's what I said about marathons after my first 5K.
- JUSTIFICATION Big deal. They run so slow, anyone
could run an ultra if they wanted to. Just look at V. Churro, the Tarahumara Indian from
Mexico who won the Leadville 100 last year ( 94) in 20:04. That's over 12 minutes per mile.
What a wimp! And he beat 300 other runners, half of whom missed the 30 hour cutoff.
That's 18:00/mile. My grandmother could WALK faster than that. (Never mind that
Leadville has 16,000 feet of climbing at 9200-12,600 ft. altitude).
- ACCEPTANCE Now that Salazar became the first
American to win the Comrades Marathon (that's 12,000 runners going 54 miles), maybe we'll
see a paragraph or two in Runner's World. Hmm... you say they have hamburgers and beer at
the aid stations? Just how do you train for one of these?