Ultras Why ? and how will it all end

Explaining to others and raising the bar.

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10/01/2013 at 19:21

The first part is a bit of an old topic but it does also reflect on the second part of this thread.

 For many of us already hooked, we are on the longer , tougher , and multiple Ultra slippery slope . One  US runner at the winter 100 was clocking up multiple 100s in one year.( I think he was on number 15). Others take to the Desert to push them self. The Arctic or Alaska is another draw. This is all very well but it does get increasingly difficult to explain why to others. Perhaps one clue is the number of folks with Anorexia who run Ultras. Are we actually that different to "normal people"?

I seem to recall members of the "Dangerous Sports Club" many of eventually ended up dead!( The invention of Base Jumping did not help). Ok that is perhaps a bit ott but I suspect that Ultra runners are on that end of the spectrum. Most of us have abandoned thoughts of mere  PB,s many miles ago in favour of pushing ourself harder just so see if we can.

Perhaps the Forum Topic: Ultra/ Adventure racing should carry a mental health warning for anyone straying off the "Conventional Running Topics"

10/01/2013 at 19:42

Don't agree that it's all about pushing youself to the limit at all, though it obviously is for some people and it may look like that to outsiders. Running a long way means you get to spend lots of time outside go to cool places. Many of the major uk ultras follow national trails and national trails are generally there because there is something cool to see. That's my take on it anyway. Running through the night is a very cool experience too.

These days a 'normal' person eats crap food, drinks too much and does very little exercise, so in that sense we're probably quite different. However 'normal' people also have jobs, families and raise kids which I'm sure plenty of people here do too.

People band ultra runners as mad or crazy because they can't comprehend it. It's easy to take notice and think you are mad or crazy but really for most people it's just doing something they love and there is nothing crazy about that.

10/01/2013 at 19:54

I'll fess up - not an ultra runner - just participant to those events that will allow me to waddle along at my own slow pace.  I love the challenge of distance and multi days.  There are many older, faster, fitter than I who can go further for longer (forgive Bear's burst of alliteration), but at 63 at least I can feel I am doing more than most of my contemporaries.

10/01/2013 at 20:04
I think there is an element of people wanting to push themselves. For me it is about doing something I enjoy and getting to see some cool places at all times of day.

I am sure you will get multiple answers as to why someone runs long distances, each is valid and an insight into what drives that person.

Does it need justifying to anyone? Is it crazy or mad? Certainly not. I know why I do it and I enjoy it. That's enough for me

If need be throw a quote at it. "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing!"
Edited: 10/01/2013 at 20:05
10/01/2013 at 20:30

Curiosity, motivation, who knows why anyone does anything.

I know I run because I like running. But I don't like running if hurting from an injury, so I don't. But plenty of people like running so much that they ignore injuries, to me thats crazy or mad.

I remember someone who loved sking so much that they went and did it when they had a slipped disc. "ooo! but I louv sking sooo mouch", "yes I was in total agony the whole time, but I louv it so". What a f...g idiot!

10/01/2013 at 21:16

All good points. But I still maintain our sport does attract some obsessive people.

Is it true to say that most who have done their first 50k run start looking at 50mile/100k races ? I also don,t think most of us would deny that to complete say a 100miler it will hurt.

 As for motivation, for me getting out into the hills is a massive part of what I love about Ultras . Thats why road or towpath Ultras are not for me.

BBH--- l agree Ultras  suit us older sods who will never win a race but can hold our own on longer distances and enjoy it.

10/01/2013 at 21:22

Agreed Ian, but I am sure people are just as obessive over Marathon, HM, 10k, 5 mile, 5k, 3000m, Mile, 1500m, 800m, 400m, 200m, 100m, 60m PBs

The big difference with ultras, in my opinion, is that a lot of people set out purely to complete an ultra. That in itself gets recognition as being an awesome achievment. Not many people start a 5k purely with the intention of just bbeating the course.

10/01/2013 at 21:55

It's social for me, love running, love meeting people and have made so many great friends in the short period I have been running longer races. Lets face it we are a great bunch!

10/01/2013 at 22:22

Ours is one of the few sports where you have the time to really get to know the guy running next to you. I should also add that  if you are in real trouble  you can totally rely on the runners around you stopping to help. 

Probably my best moments involved teaming up in the latter stages of long ultras to get each other  over the finish line. The competition at the front of the field holds no attraction.

10/01/2013 at 22:37

Some one said to be that less than a 1000 people complete a ultra each year.  Or was it 10000!

PSC    pirate
10/01/2013 at 22:56
It's got to be more that a 1000 surely!

I'm another in the tantric running team. I am beginning to prefer long and slow to conventional distances with ever more demanding time targets. Nobody seems to worry about pace on an ultra, the talk is normally about which biscuits are best for nutrition. In marathons on the other hand it's all about "what time did you do it in?" or "did you go under x hours?"
10/01/2013 at 23:02
It has to be I feel like I came in at about 1001 in my last ulta
10/01/2013 at 23:16

There is definitely an escalation factor here. 

When I ran my first ultra, I had no intention of ever doing anything more than 50 miles.  I never thought I would end up doing a 100 miler, let alone four of them.  Whatever race I finish, I always start looking for a harder one. 

Once an ultra runner starts taking on the tougher events, they are practically on a collision course with races like the GUCR and Lakeland 100.  The country just isn't big enough to hold you and the race, without it ending in a showdown. 

11/01/2013 at 06:39

Its different for everyone, I get the buzz of being in great places, and being out in the wilds, but my own motivation stems from being 45 and having never run more than a mile. I was a footballer and rugby player and took to distance for enjoyment and general fitness.Having mastered a mile I wanted to see how far I could go, and having completed many marathons, and Ultras with a 70 mile maximum to date, I'm still wondering how far will be enough.


11/01/2013 at 09:54

Ben - As mentioned already. Plenty of people do the races to find longer/hard events. However, plenty also do not. Just look at the comments above. I go to races that I will enjoy, that are fun and where I can run in awesome places. When I entered Lakeland I didn't think "I need to enter this becuase its going to be real hard", I thought "Awesome, I can run a supported lap of the Lake District!"

While there are lots of people who do just try to find harder races, there are also lots who do not.

11/01/2013 at 10:18

this is a bit like the "how long is a piece of string?" question.  answer - as long as you want it.  same as "why do you climb mountains?". answer - to get to the top.

there's no simple reason why people do these things - it's all down to personal goals and challenges; motivation; need; obsession etc.  

how people view what you do and how you explain that to them is individual.

my answer to people who query what I do and ask "are you mad?" is quite simple -  "I'm only mad in your world. in mine I'm perfectly normal" 


11/01/2013 at 12:14
fat buddha wrote (see)

this is a bit like the "how long is a piece of string?" question. 

Is this a nod to the Piece of String Fun Run? 
11/01/2013 at 13:15

I'll forward my invoice...

12/01/2013 at 11:02

Very interesting WIB. 

I assumed that all ultra runners simply had the same dysfunctions as myself. 

seren nos    pirate
12/01/2013 at 11:32

I think that its a way of seeing what you can actually achieve.so you have done marathon............and didn't die..can you manage 50 miles in a day..can you climb around the mountains..........

i do love the meeting of others and the fact its an all day picnic..........I will probably go longer again next year................

this year i'm cutting back to see if i can go faster at the shorter distaces...........i want a faster single Ironman time this year

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