Monday, December 17, 2012

(Almost) Anyone Can Be An Ultrarunner


 How did I get here?

First, let me tell you where here is: At age 40 I became an ultrarunner. I did some running in middle school but after that, nothing. To a forty year-old, sixth grade is a lifetime ago. When I moved to Utah in my twenties, I became an enthusiastic hiker. I could not ignore the Wasatch mountains. I was very happy to define myself as a hiker, so seeking out others who shared the passion, it was inevitable I would meet up with people who hiked really really quickly. How did they do it? They were ultra runners and ultra-hikers (see Joseph Bullough), so hiking was actually a much slower pace than they were conditioned to going on mountain trails. One man, goes by the name of Grizz, was my role model. This guy was in his sixties, and had finished the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run eleven times, and was still entering the race every year. To me he was a demi-god. He could climb to the summit of the tallest peaks around, seemingly with little effort (and even a littler amount of clothing). I wanted to be like that. But it took time and effort to transition from being a hiker to a runner. With the help and inspiration from younger friends who were also discovering the ultrarunning sport, I ran my first "ultra", a fifty miler called The Pony Express, at age 40. Middle age. From my point of view, not young, but not old, and certainly not too late to start running. Remember the Pixar film Ratatouille? The famous french chef Gusteau's catchphrase was "Anyone can cook!" Similar to that, mine, with respect to running farther than 26.2 miles is (Almost) Anyone can be an ultrarunner.

My year in review: Highlights

February: The Wedge, 32 mile adventure run on the rim of the San Rafael Swell Little Grand Canyon
March: Antelope Island Buffalo Run, my first 100 mile race. I celebrated my 41st birthday at mile 65
May: Zion National Park Traverse, 48 mile adventure run. Was with Craig who completed the first double Zion Traverse
July: Speedgoat 50K, advertized as one of the hardest 50Ks in the US
August: Adventure runs to Gannet Peak (Wyoming highest) and the Utah Triple Crown (three highest peaks in Utah)
September: Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run

Oh, and I also made it into Bob Athey's (The Wizard of the Wasatch) Wasatch 100 day blog entry. ( See photo below

These few things may not seem so great when compared to others who run a heckuva lot more, but for a guy that has just picked up the sport, I am very happy to have reached all of my goals for this year.

Hope your year was a good one. Make 2013 an even better year.
September 7, 2012
Photo by Bob Athey


Sam said...

Nice work MVH. You are an inspiration to me. My friends and I have wanted to do Gannet Peak for a few years now. I'd be interested in hearing more about that one.

We are doing our first ultra this Spring, the 50 miler Buffalo Run. I'm stoked.

jun said...

Cool post. You should think about writing up a longer version of your history of becoming an ultra-runner. I think people would dig hearing your background in peak bagging. Don't worry about the 600 word deal.