Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I have mentioned that I'm training for an ultramarathon race in an earlier post.  What is an ultramarathon?  The simplest definition is its any race over the distance of a marathon (26.2mi).  So technically 26.5mi would be considered an ultra marathon but you have to ask yourself how 'ultra' is that extra .3 miles beyond the traditional marathon distance?

The common 'entry level' ultramarathon is the 50k (31mi) and this is what I plan to run on October 3rd, although this '50k' is actually somewhere around 32.5mi from what I hear.  Other common distances are 50 milers, 100k (62mi) and 100 milers but you will find just about every distance in between and much higher.

To many in the sport, the 'true' ultras don't begin until you've done a 50 miler (and to some its the 100 milers).  So the idea of running the 50k ,which would be around another 10k beyond a marathon distance, doesn't count in some of the hard core runners books.  Watching a former High School XC/Track teammate (Geoff Roes) tear up the ultrarunning world for the past couple years makes me tend to agree.  Geoff makes a 50k look like a sprint but I still think its all relative.

If someone is a 3hr marathon runner then 'in theory' they would be able to complete a flat/road 50k in around 3:30.  I'm sure those extra miles are no small feat but in the grand scheme of things you may think 'whats another 1/2 hour after you've already done 3'... right?  In the same regard the race I'll be running has had winning times over the past few years around the 5hr mark.  Those that have won are actual 3hr marathon runners who are taking  5 or more hours to complete a course that is 'only' ~6 miles longer.  So obviously there is something else to the trails, elevation, etc. that would give this race some street cred (or trail cred) as being more of an ultra but this helps illustrate the differences in races.  There are even some 50k races that may take the lead guys 6 or 7hrs or more.  Me... I only hope to finish, and without taking any time goals too serious, would like to finish under 7hrs.

So the big question from my previous running post... Why would I want to do this?  Why run an ultra?  I don't think I'm doing it just to say I did it.  If that were the case I would probably look for the easiest course with the best chance of finishing.  I think its more of testing my limits and I guess just wanting to see what its like.

Being a runner from way back I've always wanted to do things like this.  When I was younger I wanted to 'be the first' to run around Oneida Lake (I didn't know it at the time, but its around 55 miles) and haven't attempted yet but always dreamed of it.  I was the kid that ran home from XC, which doesn't sound like much to some but I lived over 14 miles from our HS.  And even though I only ran 2 years in college, the bug continued with running in the mountains around Lynchburg.  We would start on a mountain road looking over at a nearby peak and end up finishing the run standing on the mountain we were just looking at. Another simple reason is I like running and wanted to have a reason to get back into it on a steady/routine basis.  I've heard from many that they need to schedule a race to shoot for to help themselves run.  I knew I wouldn't take training for a 5k, 10k, 1/2 or even a full marathon serious enough so picking an ultra race seemed like the logical step(yeah... I'm laughing at the word 'logical' too).

I think what it comes down to is even though I divorced myself from running for 8 years and pretended like I didn't care about it... I am, and hopefully always will be, a runner.  It's something that's in me and finding new frontiers like this is just something runners do... well this crazy one at least. :)

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