Running the new normal?

Social distancing, solo running, virtual races and broken dreams. Is this the new normal for our running community.

Many of us did not see this coming, but when the largest moneymaker on the planet shut its doors (Disney World) I knew the world was going to change. Then the race cancellations came, Boston, Umstead, Western States and I fear “Leadville.”

What can you do?

Myself, I continue to run and train with the faint hope that my goal race, Leadville Trail 100 will go on but I’m worried. I’ve been training with an eye on tomorrow, whatever tomorrow looks like. For me to run at the level I need to I have to be chasing a goal. And in times like these, I believe that is important for all of us.

Focus on the health benefits of being active. If you can’t get the social fix that running brings to your life never lose focus on how running improves your physical/Mental health. I enjoy running alone or with a group and racing keeps me focused but for the short term we may have to find other forms of community.

So whats next?

Are virtual races, and personal running challenges the way we will test ourselves in the future? When the Tobacco Road Marathon in Cary, NC got canceled instead of sitting idle I ran 26.2-miles on race day to get my 38th marathon in. Many other runners online have posted similar runs including one guy in the UK who ran around his backyard to get in his marathon completed. I’ve also seen many folks participating in personal challenges whether it being the “3 x 4-miles a day challenge or backyard ultras.” Are “FKTs” going to be the next big wave to stay motivated? Will “Peleton and Zwift” style treadmill races going to be the new standard of competition? Can you see a world where “I-Marathons” catch on the way NASCAR and INDY CAR have embraced virtual racing?

What will the new running world look like for you?

The world and RUNNING will survive this challenge, but it’s going to change. How it changes and whether you continue your running journey is up to you. As long as you run you’re a runner. Races will change, the virtual race organizers will fill the void. I can see a world where if you post a Strava segment over a prescribed distance you’ll earn the bling that so many of us collect. I see FKTs being posted more often and over more routes. I see PRs on treadmills being the next benchmark much like a “BQ” time standard. And I see a day when our races return.

We will shape the new world..Running and otherwise. Stay focused, stay safe, keep running, embrace the change and you’ll be ready for the future.

Being A Runner – What makes you better?

Trying to keep up with the Jones…  We are all searching for that little something extra.  That something magical to shave a few seconds off our personal record.  A little extra edge to make that mountain climb a little less tasking on our legs.  That extra zing in our lungs to finally take home the age group award.  We strive to be a better runner.

(Light 2 Light 50-mile Endurance Run and taking pictures with friends makes me a better runner….)

But what is it that makes you a better runner?

Is it the shoes?  Sure, a lot on money has been spent on developing the latest high-tech innovation, but as flashy as a new pair of kicks may be.  Will new shoes really make you jump higher, run faster or laydown those long run miles with less bonk and more victory?

Is it the watch?  I love all the “run” data that is available today.  At our fingertips is more than a timepiece, we can map our routes, record our pace, and log our segments.  Does all that wealth of information help to improve the run experience?  We can find out a lot about our performance as a runner, but does it make the beauty of the solo run any more breathtaking?

Is it the hot new outfits?  All the cool colors, flashy prints, and corporate logos help to make me feel like part of the “in” crowd or the A-list.  I may feel the part.  I may look the part, but does wearing that latest shirts, shorts or leggings make the run any more performance building?

What makes you a better runner? Improved form?  New levels of fitness?

For me, it’s my attitude.

When I run for the pure pleasure of feeling my body moving, I run better.

When I run to get lost in nature, the miles have more purpose.

When I run to bring someone along on my adventure, the experience means more.

When I get outside to celebrate life, a life I’m blessed to be able to move under my own power, I move easier.

(Running the Cape Fear 24-hour Endurance Run with Wendy and #BradStrong)

When I run for someone who can’t.  I enjoy life just a little bit more.

What makes you a better runner…not faster, not more accomplished or able to run longer.  Share with us, what makes you a better runner?

My Ultra-Crazy Year In Review

2019 – A year that would best be described as a year packed full of challenges, turmoil, self-doubt, and rebounds.

Yearly Mileage: 2500/1897.6, came up short*
Avg. Monthly Mileage: 200+/158.3, came up short*
Avg. Weekly Mileage: 50+/36.4 came up short*
Set Monthly PR 250+/Nope
Set Week PR 62+/Nope…
Complete the Leadville Trail 100/DNS*****

Other assorted PR/Milestones
Ran 100 miles for the 1st time at the 2019 edition of the VA 24-hour Ultra Run Against Cancer
I ran the Cleveland Marathon in a nontypical running outfit
I ran 100.6-miles at the Cape Fear 24-hour endurance run
I finished and published my 3rd running themed book, “UNFINISHED” and ran my 4th JFK50.

JANUARY:  I opened the year hosting the 7th annual Ultra Crazy New Years Run at Umstead State Park in Cary, NC.  This gathering was our biggest and best yet with close to 35 runners joining us in an “almost organized” self-supported training event.  The “almost” organized part nearly got me in trouble.  Going a little above self-supported, we had all the trappings of a race but without the $$$$ or special event permit, (ooopps).  Looking like more of a race then unorganized training run the State Park Rangers were a bit upset with me.  The running joke of the day was that I would be thrown in jail once I completed my 50-miles.  All in all, we had a great time and will be back with proper permits and following all the North Carolina State Park rules.

UPDATE: the 2020 event had near 70 runners…..and proper permits!

2019 50-mile Ultra Crazy Finishers
Jillian Breitwieser
Karl Breitwieser
Andrea McHugh
Claire Cochrane (our new friend from DD100)
and I (Brian Burk)

The Leadville Race Series lottery results were posted, and I was officially informed of my return trip to PBville to take on the Leadville Trail 100.  In little over 8 months, I believed I would be back on 6th and Harrison St. chasing that coveted Leadville buckle.  Little did I know my running life would take a drastic turn.

FEBRUARY:  As the iconic Don McLean songAmerican Pie goes “But February made me shiver.  With every paper, I’d deliver.  Bad news on the doorstep.  I couldn’t take one more step.”  In my search for vertical and training opportunities for Leadville, I headed to the Uwharrie mountains with a few friends.  The goal for the day was simply a 20-mile training run and north of 2,000 ft of vertical.  Descending from the first trip to the summit my toe clipped a rock causing me to go full superman into the surface below.  This section of the trail was littered with leaves and rocks. As luck or lack of luck would have it directly in the path of my now airborne body, and more concerning my left knee was a very jagged and well-weathered rock. For a moment that seemingly lasted forever…time stood still. 

Laid out on the ground while trying to catch my breath, I seriously wondered if I had broken my leg or was it potentially much worse.  Once the shock and extreme pain subsided, I noticed my running pants were already spotted with blood. I nervously inspect the wound. At first glance, I believed I had dodged a bullet. 

On the bright side, after I got my wits together, I ran 18.5 more miles and in the short term though I was still on the road for redemption in Leadville. Little did I know, this tumble set off a series of events that threatened my very running career.

MARCH:  From that fateful day forward running was very painful. After many stressful miles and three doctor visits, I received the news that I did not have any structural damage to my knee.  Although in the words of my knee specialist; other than tearing a ligament or breaking a bone that the point of impact was at the absolute worst location possible.  He had a technical name for it but in “Brian speak.”

The rock impacted my knee right at the termination point of the patellar tendon and the tibia.  Although everything was intact, I now had a golf ball size lump on the impact spot and a very painful running gait.  With a caution that I should let pain be my guide and a statement that I could not make it any worse, I was excited to run the Wrightsville Beach Marathon.

Wrightsville Beach Marathon:  Nearly a perfect race weekend greeted the running crowd.  Before the marathon, I had a successful book signing at the EXPO while meeting fellow runners and a few social media followers. No matter how my knee felt I was very excited to run 26.2-miles and hopefully prove my knee would hold up. 

My knee did well for 21.5-miles until it didn’t.  I held onto a sub-4 pace for most of the race then a pain in my right hip of all places became too much.  A collateral effect of my gimpy left knee I believed caused my right hip to flare up. This new issue forced me to run-walk the remaining 4.7-miles to the finish.  My 28th marathon finish was in books but the door to a troubled year was cracked even wider open.

APRIL:  The ultra-running community provides many opportunities to meet and interact with new people.  I met Clare at the Devil Dog 100 in 2018.  She ran the 100k, I ran the 100-miler.  Early in the rain-soaked race, we shared a few miles together.  During our conversation, she mentioned her plan to run the Umstead 100 race.  I explained that this event was held nearly in my backyard. After a few miles of Q&A I offered my help as a pacer if she needed someone.  I was lucky enough to be able to help her run her first 100-mile race. 

I’ve been fortunate to help two runners reach their first 100-mile finish. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my running life.  To help a fellow runner reach their goal and to give back to the running community is an awesome way to spend the day.  I vow that one way or another, running or volunteering…I will be at the Umstead 100 from now on.

Virginia 24-Hour Ultra Run Against Cancer and team “Run for Life” what can I say.  We rock. We set course records.  We had five runners reach 100-miles.  And as is becoming a custom we won the team event AGAIN.  Unfortunately, 100-miles comes with some issues.  My knee and hip stayed a bay for most of the day, but two days after the event a new problem arose.  The inside of my right foot became very sore.  As is my practice I went to the intern and thought I found the culprit and it looked grim.

MAY:  An annual trip for Michele and I.  Once again, we headed north and took on the Cleveland Marathon.  This year, Michele walked the 5k and half marathon while I ran the marathon.  I originally wanted to and signed up to run the “challenge series” but with my compromised knee/hip and foot giving me fits I backed down and “only” ran the marathon distance.  My 29th marathon, but this was going to be different.

On perhaps the hottest day of the year, I ran 26.2-miles of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon in full Cleveland Browns ensemble.  From top to bottom I was geared up for a game on the gridiron not to run the city streets of a marathon race.  Sporting an NFL regulation Browns “game-used helmet of #90 Mark Word, “FanSince 71” jersey, game-used pants, socks, bright orange shoes and carrying a regulation NFL football.  On this day I did not set a PR, but boy did I have fun with the longest touchdown run ever……….

I will be running the Cleveland Marathon in 2020 to once again run in full Browns Glory!  COME RUN with me and get a DISCOUNT when you use my special discount code BB2020.

JUNE:  With every run, I was hopeful the nagging issues with my knee/hip and foot would disappear.  Unfortunately, what happened was that my compromised gait birthed more issues.  With Leadville looming on the calendar, I pushed my injured body much further than I should have.  My running life came unglued during a routine run.

After an easy 2-miles of a 7-mile run the pain became so unbearable that with a broken will I had to shut it down.

With a little downtime and wanting to stay connected to the running world, I began to create custom running award displays.  You can check out my works here at Ultra Wood Designs

JULY:  I spent the remainder of June and all of July spinning miles at Planet Fitness avoiding the LUNK alarm and wondering if I would be able to reclaim any form of running.  As the days on the calendar progressed Recovery, Leadville and the Morgantown marathon were looming presences.  Would I recover? Should I defer my race entry to Leadville? Could I bounce back to enough to regain some running form to run the marathon in Sept?

Finally, the days on the calendar forced my hand, I had to make the call.  With a heavy heart and nearly defeated spirit, I deferred my chance at redemption and postponed my return to Leadville until 2020.

You can pick up the book that started my call to the mountains, Running to Leadville a story that will steal your heart, and uncover the drama of a 100-mile race while simultaneously captivating your thoughts around life, love, relationships and running.

AUGUST:  smack dap in the dog days of summer, when I should have been immersed in the Leadville charm, eating High Mountain Pies (pizza), I was cross-training and hoping the endless miles on the stationary bike would pay off.  6-weeks out from the Morgantown marathon there was a gleam.  On a routine day, of a normal week, I laced up my running shoes and wondered if my legs would hold up?  One major question haunted me, was the time off enough?  Or was my knee worse than I had realized?  On a hope-filled summer day, I ventured out on an easy trail run and awaited to find out if my body had repaired itself?  With every step, every footfall I hoped I still had some miles left in my tank…and I feared finding out on the next landing stage of my stride that this comeback attempt would prove my running days were over.

5-weeks out from Morgantown I a training plan that I hoped my legs could hold up to and that I could get back on to the comeback trail.  4-weeks out I put in 35 miles of slow and easy running miles.  When the end of August rolled around I was hopeful.

SEPTEMBER:  3-weeks until the big day and my life began to fall into the normal pattern of marathon training once again.  Although this time I knew farewell that in the days leading up to marathon Sunday a lot could go wrong.  2-weeks out I was able to put down 47-miles including a strong 15-miler.  Normally a taper week the marathon I ran the furthest, I had all summer, 15.5-miles. From 15.5 miles to a marathon…not sure this is in any training plan.

Morgantown Marathon, Yes it’s hilly and I do not recommend the “injured to a marathon in 6-weeks” training plan.  It worked but….

OCTOBER:  After surviving the marathon my next goal was to see if I could build up the miles and return to the ultra-marathon stage.  The Cape Fear 24-hour endurance run would be the perfect venue.  My initial “A” goal going in…a 50k.  Ok, maybe…50-miles.  A 100k if everything went well.  100-miles…that’s crazy talk!  Why not?

NOVEMBER:  My 4th JFK50-Mile Endurance Run.  Some races just call you.  Some races you just need to have on your resume.

I’m first a runner, but also a storyteller.  My 3rd book focuses on relationships as much as it does on running.  Just as the JFK50 stretches your abilities as a runner with three varying course terrains, I wanted to stretch myself as a storyteller.  I believe I did just that while paying tribute to an Iconic race.

UNFINISHED — Sometimes a run or race is more about life than we ever imagined.  A story about running and relationships. 15.5-miles on the Appalachian Trail, 26.3-miles on the C&O towpath, 8.4-miles of rolling country roads and two lives forever interconnected. Get your copy today or share with a friend.

DECEMBER:  My 5th finish at the Seashore Nature Trail 50k in Virginia Beach.  Running and finishing an ultra-marathon is special.  Seashore was my first ultra…a race I nearly DNF’d.  I learned a lot since then, I have met a ton a great people, ran a lot of miles and experienced a lot of life. It was good to come back to where it all began. It was a great day to return for my 5th finish and earn a 5-time buckle. Tops on my list was seeing so many friends…experiencing the freezing cold tidal waters, running with reindeer ears and living in all that the day had in store.

For all that 2019 was…it was a success!

What were your 2019 highlights… Leave us a comment and tell us all about them.

Peace, love, running with puppies, and pizza…

Running the 57th Annual JFK 50-Mile Endurance Race

Some races have a loyal following because of the unique and challenging terrain on which the course is run. Some races establish a strong culture based on the community of runners who return year after year. Some races build their reputation from the history of the event. The JFK 50-Mile Endurance Run has it all.

The JFK 50 runs along a horseshoe-shaped “point to point” course covering three very distinctive landscapes. From the town center of Boonsboro, Maryland the historic route covers 15.5-miles along the Appalachian Trail, 26.3-miles on the C&O canal towpath and 8.4-miles of rolling country roads leading runners to the final destination and the finish line in front of Springfield Middle School in Williamsport, Maryland.

(My Strava data, start to C&O and C&O to finish)

Along the Appalachian Trail runners transverse over asphalte roadways, and single track trails infested with gnarly rocks while climbing 2,461 feet of total gain reaching the top of South Mountain, the highest spot on the course, at 1,795ft. At around 14.5-miles the course takes a rapid descent via staggering switchbacks at the Weverton cliffs. Surviving the AT runners take on the 26.3-miles of the C&O canal towpath. Although seemingly flat the towpath climbs over 300 feet. At approx. 42-miles hopeful finishers depart the towpath at Dam#4 and begin the 8.4-mile run to the finish. With the finish line in sight and with nearly 8-miles of rolling country roads behind them finishers have to climb one last hill .25-miles from the finish. The JFK course offers something for everyone. This historic race will test all those who want the coveted finishers medal.

For some finishing, the JFK 50 is a rite of passage. For others running the oldest UltraMarathon in the nation is a yearly tradition. The finishers’ “clubs” start with 10-years with a handle full of legends having completed over 1500-miles on the course with a leader having finished 49 JFK races.

The JFK 50 Mile Endurance Run was first held in the spring of 1963.  It was one of numerous such 50-mile events held around the country as part of President John F. Kennedy’s push to bring the country back to physical fitness. Held for 57 consecutive years the memorial run is a benchmark of East Coast endurance events.

The 57th edition was my 4th running of this great event. Not that I am an elite athlete or would ever threaten to win this event, but I do have some secrets to success I would like to share. Race reports 2014, 2015, and 2016 (PR)).

Secrets to finishing the JFK 50-mile Endurance Run

  1. Without burning out your legs, advance during the early road miles.
  2. Always move w/purpose, when not running hike at a fast pace.
  3. When on the “non-rocky sections” of the AT make up ground. Run when you can, and pass when you can pass.
  4. When on the “rocky sections” land your footfall light and quick.
  5. Have a plan for the C&O…I choose to use an interval approach, 5/1 run/fast hike.
  6. Don’t allow the C&O to put you to sleep…make the run parts of your interval count.
  7. Concentrate on the mile you’re in.
  8. Make the pit stops short & make them count, drink/eat before you’re thirsty/hungry.
  9. Power hike the climb off the C&O and then run everything that is downhill or flat.
  10. Be ready for that final push.

    And most importantly breath in your victory and finish.

Running and Writing – Why I do it

Both gifts came later in life.

Running was something that did not come naturally. At a young age, I had some speed, I was a quick little kid but lacked the discipline to build endurance. When it got hard, when I ran out of gas and I gave up.

Writing was something I enjoyed early on but I lacked the skills and knowledge to format my stories correctly. Inturn my English teachers tore up my papers with flaming red critiques and destroyed my desire to take further abuse.

Running later in life opened new doors. I conquered the lack of self-confidence and endurance. I found I had the ability to run the long and hard-fought miles. I found I enjoyed the challenge of pushing my limits during the long run. Each new distance, each race held a story within its self. New terrain, new challenges inspired me to try and capture the memories. In running I may have found the true me, and I found a voice.

I’ve been asked why I write… It’s obvious that I’m not an English major, The comas may be misplaced and my sentence structure could be off.

I write to entertain and to tell a story that may inspire. To encourage others to look at life from another perspective. I write to uncover the drama of life and the epic ultramarathons. I write so that others may find strength in relationships and running.

UNFINISHED will take the reader along another journey of the human spirit and along the racecourse of the JFK 50 mile endurance race.

“the magic of the JFK 50 Mile, Brian Burk “gets it” and catches the true flavor of the JFK 50 Mile in his novel “Unfinished.”
Enjoy the journey!

Mike Spinnler (JFK50 Race Director and Champion)

Available on Amazon and the JFK race expo…

In the meantime check out my first novel Running to Leadville.

More than a running story.  The tale takes the reader from finding love, experiencing loss, while finding oneself at 12,600 ft on the top of Hope Pass. Available on Amazon

Signed copies of all my books available here

Ultra Marathon – 6 Weeks to a 100-Mile Finish

6-weeks to a 100-mile finish (I do not recommend this training plan to anyone…)

All was going well until Feb, 2019 when during a run I caught a root/rock with the toe of my shoe.  The result was an impact to my left knee on the very sharp edge of a rock.

Feb 2, 2019…I ran 18.5 miles after this fall

Long story short…no permanent damage, but significate trauma to the point where the patella tendon mounts to the tibia.  The result of this misstep kicked off a series of injuries.  Being a bit stubborn, I ran two marathons (Wrightsville Beach and Cleveland) and a 24-hour race where I logged 101.250 miles while in quite a bit of pain and on a compromised gait.  The result was my left knee became unstable, I developed sciatica pain in my right hip and my right insole was stressed to the point that I could not take a step without being in pain. With Leadville and redemption on the horizon, I tried to power through it.

The Start of the Cape Fear 24-Hour Endurance Run
Oct 12, 2019, The Start of the Cape Fear 24-hour Endurance Run

By the second week of June…I could not stand running in pain anymore.  I thought for sure my running career was over.  I visited my DR, and a sports chiropractor. I took anti-inflammatories and stretched, but nothing worked. Desperate the only thing I could think of as my next step was a “hard reset.”  I had one hope…to shut it down.  Would taking the summer off reset my normal running gait and heal the trauma?

For 8 weeks I cross-trained in an effort to maintain some form of fitness.  5 days a week I pedaled a stationary bike, rode the elliptical and slowly worked in brisk paced walking.  3 weeks before the Morgantown Marathon I started running again and a funny thing happened.

My knee responded while the sciatic and insole pain stayed at bay.  I had hope. With a bit of nervous anticipation, I toed the line in Morgantown prepared to put my body to the test.  26.2 miles later I crossed the finish line tired, physically wore out by the hills and challenged from an abnormally hot day, but I finished. I had hope.

Approximately 20 days, 22 hours, 38 minutes and 38 seconds later I crossed the finish line at the Cape Fear 24-Hour Endurance Run in Lillington, NC having completed my 6th 100-mile run. I finished 6th overall and 4th male.

100.6 miles later…22hours 38 minutes and 38 seconds after starting, I’m Back.

During my summer running vacation, I thought I was done.  At one point I felt like a part of myself disappeared, and a connection to the running community was gone. At times I felt lost.

Finishers buckle…this one is extra special. Thank you Michele for being there…you made my come back possible. Love ya, more….

What did I learn?

You’re always a runner.  Being a runner is as much a state of mind as it is an action.

Our bodies need to heal.

Never lose faith in you… (I recommend this to everyone)


Morgantown Marathon – Yes It’s Hilly

A marathon with a bit of a punch.  With social media hashtags like #yesitshilly and #conqurethiscourse I suspected I was in for a challenge.

Whether you run the Marathon, the Half Marathon or the Mountain Mama 8k you’re in for a tough and challenging race.  For your efforts, you’ll receive support that rivals or surpasses any big city marathon.  I ran the marathon on a warm Sunday morning and found the support around the race very helpful and welcoming.


The packet pickup was located at a Dicks Sporting Goods superstore that was easy to locate.  To be honest, I missed the feel of a true race expo.  As runners, we suffer in training and on race day…the expo is a time to enjoy our journey to the starting line, make new friends and to celebrate.  The volunteers were very helpful. I was in and out in no time with my race gear in hand.

The start of the race and finish of the race was held at the West Virginia University Coliseum and for logistics reasoning, the event restricted parking at this location.  Offsite parking with a free shuttle service was provided for racers, family and spectators alike.  This service went off like a well-timed military operation.  I arrived just after 5:45 and by 6 a.m. I was at the starting line without delay.

Race day morning support included late registration, packet pick up and dry bag drop off.  All the pre-race activities and announcements went off without overdue fanfare.  Some races tend to drag out their opening remarks thanking every corporate sponsor and elected official.  The Morgantown Race Director kept it simple, patriotic and to the point.  Thanks to this “Just the facts” approach the race started dead on time.


With any city-based marathon there tends to be a lot of twists and turns as you navigate, residential streets, greenways, waterfronts, and commercial zones.  This course was well laid out and easy to navigate. As someone who finds it easy to get lost…I never questioned which way the Morgantown Marathon route traveled.  Every turn was well marked with signs at the intersections and yellow arrows painted on the road surface.  Where the street crossings may have gotten congested with traffic, numerous course marshals were on hand to direct traffic, ensure the safety of the field and encourage the runners.  I never once felt like I could make a wrong turn nor in danger from the traffic.  “Thank you to all the Volunteers…..”

At each mile marker along the course, there were “Hero Mile” signs dedicated to honoring our military heroes.  A major benefactor of the race is the nonprofit Operation Welcome Home, an organization dedicated to helping veterans and their families overcome barriers to employment.

The web site promised water stations every 2-miles…well, they may have over-delivered. On a sweltering day, I’m sure that was a survivor for some.  The aid station volunteers were very helpful having water and Gatorade at the ready.  A bonus was the high energy support the volunteers provided in the latter stages of the race when an encouraging word or upbeat attitude can help renew someone’s race vigor.

Looking to find that extra edge during your next marathon or any race for that matter?  Check out my book 26.2 Tips to run your best MARATHON (or any race for that matter) available on Amazon and this blog.

#Yesitshilly  When I got home I reviewed my Strava data and surprisingly found that the analytics for the race only reflected 1572 feet of gain.  With legs still reeling from the days’ effort, I thought for sure the elevation profile would have reflected more vertical.

From the start, the race features numerous rolling hills leading up to a sustained climb starting around mile 6 which builds up to a rapid and quad killing downhill at mile 9.  From here to the halfway point were more rolling hills and another rapid downhill into the 13.1 benchmark.  Surviving this opening act the in middle miles featured a “relatively” flat section that allowed for some upbeat running. 

A laughingly but not funny 20th mile aka “The Wall” appeared right at the entrance to a cemetery.  I considered making it my “final pitstop” but I had fought too hard to get to this point I wasn’t going to be laid to rest just yet.  At another round of rolling hills from miles, 17 to 22 led up to the last challenge of the day. 

The Morgantown Marathon course builds up to a final crescendo when you face perhaps the hardest closing mile of all the 65 races of marathon plus distance I’ve run.  After the flattest section of the day, mile-25 features a gut-wrenching trek uphill.  Not your cookie-cutter course this race has character, this course has spirit and this course proves that until the bitter end.

#Conquerthiscourse  This race will challenge you.  This race will challenge if not with its pure vertical, then with the unrelenting fact that it’s not flat.

#RunMotown  The rolling terrain takes a toll on your legs. lungs and authors a marathon story worth telling.


Stumbling through the finishers chute I was very relieved to be finished, fini, complete, finito, done and very happy to be greeted by a cold drink, wonderful finisher medal and unlimited slices of pizza!  The finish line featured a mini beer garden, food tent and some local vendors.  Just like my morning shuttle experience, transportation back to my car was quick and easy.  Stepping off the bus I put a stamp on my Morgantown Marathon Day!

I would recommend this race for anyone looking for a challenge, to anyone looking for a race with some character, or someone looking to break out of the cookie-cutter marathon experience.  If you’re looking for a BQ or your next PR…dial in your fitness, get your legs in shape and you could post an epic time on a challenging course.

Do you want to run Morgantown in 2020, connect with them on the Web, on Facebook and Instagram and you find some great travel information about the area at Tour Morgantown.

In full disclosure, I ran this race as a Race Ambassador, I received a free entry into the race for my honest review of my race day experience.  This did not influence my review.

Not Running and what I’m learning

Some honest facts about my time off from running.

Some background to my time off. Feb 2, 2019, I went to the Uwharrie Mountains to get in some training miles and to chase some vertical in preparation for my return to Leadville Aug 2019. Uwharrie is a great place to run but the trails do offer some rocky foot placements. About 1.5 miles into a beautiful Saturday morning with a 20-mile adventure planned I caught my foot on an unseen rock. The next thing I knew I was on the ground and my left leg making an impact with the jagged edge of a rock. My knee caught the rock where your patella tendon mounts to the shin bone. After seeing stars and figuring out that nothing was terminal, I noted how much that impact hurt. After a few painful moments, I was able to get back on my feet and continued on. 18.5 miles later my knee was bloody and sore knee but I figured I was no worse for wear.

Fast forward…through two marathons (Wrightsville Beach in March and Cleveland in May), and a 101.25-mile effort during a 24-hour race (VA 24-hour ultra run against cancer in April) I had been fighting off all sorts of injuries (knee pain, sciatica, and some tendonitis in my right foot). In June I finally had enough. Running had become so painful that I knew I had to take some time away. I shut it down on the 20th of June in hopes of resetting my body and starting a fall race calendar.

Worst of it all, I had to defer my Leadville entry. Mentally it was crushing, depressing and confidence breaking. It felt like I had failed at Leadville all over again.

I’ll be honest, although I continue to workout, riding the stationary bike five days a week, copying my run training, I’m learning a lot about life and myself but I feel I’m also losing ground.

Life, in fact, does continue. As much as I miss my daily miles…the sun still comes up, the birds still sing and the days are still filled with good times.

My butt may not have been made for biking….ha ha ha but is any butt really made for those seats?

Truthfully, I’ve enjoyed my newfound “weekend” hours to embrace my other passions.

Check out my custom medal/buckle display http://bri

I still feel connected to the running community, but I fear its slipping.

I embrace the victories of friends as they continue on the running path.

Thursday (1 Aug) will mark six weeks…the longest I have been off from running in 19 years.

I wonder if…..

Wish me luck to make it until the end of Aug, my self imposed hiatus.

Run if you can…it’s inspiring the rest of us (ME).

Running your first race or your next one

How to ensure your first race is a successful one!

It’s a benchmark and a rite of passage for every runner.  Almost as sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, if you started running you’ll run a race.  Even if you started running purely for fitness or weight loss alone, you eventually sign up for a race whether it’s by your own motivation or peer pressure.  Surely I say unto you….sooner or later you’ll enter a race.

My thrid race but the first that I have a finishing picture

So how can you ensure a successful result.

#1  Win the day.  Notice I did not say win the race. Truth is few of us will ever be fast enough or gifted enough to break the ribbon at the finish line, but all of us can win the day. 

#2  Say hi to another runner, smile, wave and embrace the people around you.

#3  High five the kids along the route, soak in their energy.

#4  Thank a volunteer who gave of their time to support your endeavor.  Soak in the realization that each one of them wants to see you succeed.

#5  Believe in you. Their is no more powerful force.

#6  Have a clear goal within the race.  Whether it be a certain time result or simply running the hills, have a goal within the race that you can celebrate.

#7  Enjoy the views.  Most races take you to new parts of a city, town or trail.  Enjoy the views, get lost among the new surroundings, take in the mystery of a new course.

#8  View success on your own scale.  Do not judge your results compared to others.  At the end of the day, it’s your race.

#9  Remember there will be hard times…accept it and take it on.

#10  Live in the victory of finishing what you set out to do.

There is nothing like your first race and or your next race.  You can ensure it’s a success by understanding you can do anything you “believe” you can.

Running is… Marathon – Ultramarathon – Running – Fitness

Running is…

Runners come to this lifestyle from different paths.  We all eventually pick up a pair of shoes, slide our feet in them and lace them up distinct reasons with varying goals and expectations.  For most the destination of our run becomes more than simply the miles we log or the trails we explore.  Our true destination may not be known for many miles or seasons down the road and in turn each one of us will define what running is.

(At the start of Eastern Divide 50K)

Running is an adventure –  More so than a single workout, standalone miles or a collection of miles that becomes a race.  Running is an opportunity to explore new worlds, new trails, new environments and to seek out and find new parts of yourself that may lie unexposed otherwise.  There is nothing more “alive” than exploring our world on foot whether it be the deserts of the South West, the mountains of the Rockies, or the big cities along the East Coast.  Running opens new doors to the marvels of the very world we live in.

 (Among the sand-dunes of the Graveyard 100-Miler)

Running has taken me to locations I only previously saw on postcards or if in person from the worn-out vantage points of tourist.  Running has taken me on adventures to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the top of the Rockies, the City Center of Miami, along the sandy coastline of the Outer Banks and a perimeter run around Key West just to name a few.

[Tweet “Brian, @cledawgs explains what RUNNING is to him. Come join the conversation, what is RUNNING to you?”]

Running is a community –  Few things are more powerful than a group of like-minded people.  A solo sport by nature but performed within a larger community that is welcoming, and encouraging.  One doesn’t have to look long before you’ll find a running club, a workout or racing group that is looking to link up with you.  Runners more so than any other community want to connect, lift up, encourage and help you succeed.  In the day to day world, it easy to get caught up in the solidity of your own run, but when you look around you’ll see an entire community that your part of once you go for a run.

 (Taking on the JFK 50-Miler)

I started my running life as a lone-wolf, and that lasted until I wasn’t.  My running journey started on a cold dark morning, logging miles alone before I went to work.  It stayed that way for a few years until I choose to look beyond my miles, my goals and my next race.  With a view beyond my run, my running world slowly grew into a collection of new friends, clubs, and social circles that became my running world, and my community of like-minded people.  A single lonely mile transformed into relay teams, training partnerships, run clubs, race teams, and community relationships all built on the same desires and passions.

Running is inspiring –  The winner standing on the podium, the first finisher to break the tape or the one who travels the furthest distance are often propelled by the accomplishments of others.  At times, it’s hard to see the future while locked in the very personal struggle of trying to overcome doubt, limits or misconceptions the world has placed on you.  Through examples of others, one can see that goals can be reached, barriers can be removed and desired results achieved.

 (1st 100-mile finish with Blake Norwood at Umstead 100)

Standing among the finishing crowd at an awards ceremony I’ve often thought, if that person could do it, there is no reason that I can’t.  Granted for some world-class performance goals it may come down to genetics or God-given talent, but through the victory of others, I have been able to see that I am capable of some much more.

What is Running to you…...(post a comment below)