A Brief Talk About Ultra-Running

A Brief Talk About Ultra-Running

“I used to be scared of running in high school because when I heard the words ‘cross-country’ I thought that was too far.”  Who would have thought years down the road the guy who thought this way would end up creating the Run Across Georgia Race.  A prime example of what happens when mentality changes.  Personally for me when I heard about the Run Across Georgia event, my eyes widened, and I gasped, “What?!  Run across the state of Georgia?? HOW? WHY?”  These are the reactions of most non-runners or even other runners who might just stay in the safe zone of 5Ks and 10Ks.  You know when you hear or see something for the first time, you start hearing about it or seeing it everywhere?  It’s probably always been there, but we just weren’t aware?  That is what ultra-running was for me.  For a long time I thought the farthest human beings ever ran was a marathon.  Run Across Georgia was the first time I had heard about ultra-running. Then it kicked off from there.  I started hearing other runners’ stories of running through the woods for days a time or around a track for 24 hours or running across a desert.  And this has been going on for YEARS!  It’s happening RIGHT NOW!  There are runners flying through forests and God knows where else for long periods of time as you read this.  Why is this not talked about more?!  But then as I dove into the running world a bit deeper that’s when the ultra-running stories appeared.  They had always been there.  It is one of those phenomenons that’s hard to believe.  Even if someone is telling you to your face I ran across the state of Georgia or ran for 24 hours straigt, it is truly hard to believe.  And there are THOUSANDS of people doing it!  There are tons of stories of humans who did not start running until after 40 years old and are killing the game at ultra-running.  Running is one of the only sports one can take up later in life and be successful at.  I recently saw/posted a video of a 102-year-old woman who didn’t start running until the age of 67.  These types of stories are proof that us humans are capable of so much more than we could ever imagine.   

What I started to notice when talking with ultra-runners is they would all say the same thing, “I got bored with marathons, so I needed something different.”  BORED with marathons?!, I thought.  How is that possible?!  Then I did my first marathon this past November – the Soldier’s Marathon which gave me the bug to do my first ultra this year.  I knew if I could do a marathon, I can and will do an ultra.

Vikena Yutz, founder and head coach of Project 42 Runnig (P42R) and women’s champion of several ultra-marathons runs for the JOY of it.  As do most runners.  There definitely has to be a WANT there.  As John Teeples says, “Once you make the decision [to do something] and you’re not fighting to make that switch, it’s easy.”  Once the running bug bites you, it becomes a way of life.  Did you know that there are “secret” groups of runners in Columbus who are out and about between 4:30am-6am almost every morning?!  The amazing runners of Columbus they are called.  The few times I have joined in I was utterly amazed at these humans’ drive and the extra amount of energy I had for the rest of the day.  Maybe you’ve caught a glimpse of a moving shadow darting down the road or around a corner or have seen some blinking lights strapped to these ultra-humans on your way to work. Or if you’re still in bed just be aware that these runners are out there and are done before the sun is up.  Just watching the runners in front of me I thought, “ninjas”.  Now you see me, now you don’t.  Truly anyone who gets up before the sun rises is an A+ in my book.  They are more than welcoming to those who’d like to join in. 

All of this to say there are piles of running journeys waiting to be told and miles of roads and trails waiting to be explored.  Join us anytime at Big Dog Fleet Feet to start taking your first steps towards the finish line.

By: Charlotte Gallagher

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