Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Becoming An Ultra Runner

I was glad to be done!
Photo by Gregg Gelmis
Running any distance beyond 26.2 miles is considered ultra running.

50k, or 50,000 meters (31 miles), is the most common distance followed by 50 miles, 100k (62 miles), and, finally, 100 miles. 

There are a few less common distances and even some beyond 100 miles, like the 135 mile Badwater Ultra Marathon in Death Valley, California (in July!), as well as, 12 hour, 24 hour, and many relays even longer than that, but 50k is where ultra running begins.


Since New Year's Eve 2013, I have finished four 50k's (with 1 DNF) and one 40 Miler. My first ultra marathon was a very satisfying experience. It is called "Recover From the Holidays" held every year on December 31st at John Hunt Running Park in Huntsville, AL.

JHRP is a 3-mile trail loop that winds along the outskirts of a golf course to its north and just over the hill, to the south, is the city dump. You never see the landfill, but if the wind is right, you definitely know it is there! Surprisingly, only a whiff is all I've ever gotten when running John Hunt, and I've run over a hundred miles there. I finished RFH50k in 6 hours and 32 minutes.

The set up is one aid station at the turn-around of the loop. That part of the course is an open field, so everyone sets up chairs and blankets on the ground with personal aid. The turn around itself is a row of tables with extra goodies to munch on every 30 minutes give or take, depending on your pace. The mood is jovial, probably because it's New Years' Eve, but also because the Race Directors do a great job. I am very glad I chose it to be my first ultra.