Posted Tue, Oct 23, 2012

LONG DISTANCE RUNNER: Running 100 miles is the equivalent of running from New York to Philadelphia. [Photo by Simone DeAlba]

10K run….check!
Half Marathon….yawn!
Marathon…been there, done it!

In the last 20 years running has seen a huge surge in popularity. Today’s hottest trend meant to challenge athletes of all backgrounds is the elusive ultra marathon. You may ask, what’s so ultra about this marathon that sets it apart from every other monotonous race?

Ultra marathons are known for their extreme distances, some as far as 100 miles in a single event. Before you avert your eyes, thinking I could never complete a feat of this magnitude, one may be surprised to discover that the majority of those participating are everyday runners, not just the elite.

“The elite athletes make up a small percentage of the athletes that compete in these types of events,” said Chad Ricklefs, one of the world’s best long distance runners. “The majority of ultra runners have full-time careers and they compete in ultra marathons because of the challenges that come with these events.”

In case you were curious, running 100 miles is the equivalent of running from New York to Philadelphia. Ricklefs has been competing nationally since 1998. Among his many accolades are victories at the Leadville 100. Yes, victories as in two. The Leadville 100 has a reputation among the running community as being one of the most difficult ultra marathons on the planet. Not only are the inclines outrageous, the entire course is run above fourteen thousand feet. Perhaps he would agree that sea level is for sissies.

Ricklefs believes that the challenge associated with these endurance events is indeed physical, but tends to be incredibly mental as well.

“At multiple points during an ultra, a runner will face an inner battle with your mind telling you to stop,” said Ricklefs. “Successful ultra marathoners are those that can overcome these mental challenges and push through periods of self doubt and pain.”
Perhaps the draw is the battle vs. the self. The quest to discover whether or not you have what it takes to look pain, exhaustion, and self-doubt square in the eye and still emerge victorious. Writes Chris McDougall,” You don’t have to be fast, but you’d better be fearless.”

About Simone DeAlba

Former CU Buff (Political Science), here at Metro State to finish a second degree in Broadcast news. Marathon runner, political junkie, and cheap sunglasses connoiseur.

View all posts by Simone DeAlba

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