Monthly Archives: March 2019

Ultra Marathon Dreams – Why 100-Miles

Why 100-miles?  From the outside, it must seem crazy, daunting, impossible and downright torturous.  From the inside, within the cult of runners who test themselves by running 100-miles, it is crazy, daunting, and indeed torturous.  So why do we do it?  Why does the 100-mile distance, some call it the new marathon, have such a compelling draw on us?  Why does 100-miles capture our spirit?

In its simplest term, it might be the very distance itself.  100-miles.  Nearly a perfect and formidable number.  100 of anything is a lot by any standard of measurements.  100-miles from one place to another, no matter the mode of transportation is a long way.

I was drawn to the distance as a natural progression.  At the time, I had run a number of marathons, had completed 52 miles during a 24-hour race and the 100-mile distance simply called me.  There was something about 100-miles.  Starting at one point and being in a continual state of movement until I was 100-miles down the road or 100-miles around a looped course.  Whatever it was the 100-mile benchmark seem to capture my imagination and I knew it would test the very fiber of my being.

(My first 100-mile buckle at the Umstead 100)

I’ve asked a few of my running friends the ultimate question.  Some have completed a 100-mile race (or a number of them) and others are chasing the dream.

Why 100-miles?

Jill Becker – “100 miles….I’ve never dug deeper, pushed my limits, found a new calm among the mountains and overcame such a challenge in life.  No matter what race you choose be willing to sacrifice habits, things, and situations standing in your way of success (and ‘the buckle’).  One of the best parts of 100 miles is you find out who you are and how tough you are.  My team of pacers and crew remind me of my “goal” and that ‘forward is the pace’.  My circle of people are pretty amazing. Just like in life, 100 milers prepare you for the rollercoaster ride and vice versa!” So maybe I do 100 miles to prepare me for life’s challenges or to embrace the pain of what could come or maybe it’s to show the world be tougher than your excuses, take the hard ‘route’ and keep moving forward because YOU WILL GET THERE!”

A 5-time finisher of 100-mile races, AND 2 x time finisher of the Leadville Trail 100, Jill is one tough cookie.  As a survivor of Achilles Tendon surgery, Jill understands how to rebuild fitness after injuries to get back to doing what you love. She rebuilt her own fitness to become even stronger, with multiple podium finishes at distances from 40 to 100 miles!  She is a run coach with Lifetime Fitness

Running to Leadville – An captivating account about a lost soul, a small mining town and a 100-mile trail race that changes lives. Amazon reviewer “immediately hooked from beginning to end.”  Get your copy here.

Tim Adkins – First though, had I told you that I drowned when I was 7?  I’ve survived three strokes and an induced coma.  My left lung collapsed because of the strokes (well let’s blame the stroke).  From this near-death event, I live with some serious mental issues from my memories and a lot of other things like crazy mood swings, I constantly hear voices, I’m subjected to night terrors (flashbacks).  I chose the 100-mile distance more to escape my own demons is my main reason I guess.  I also find it crazy how much it inspires other people.  I want to show people that if I can chase my dreams with all I have going on, then surely they can follow theirs.

TIM aka Timmer ran 96-miles during a 24 Hour Event at his first 100-Mile attempt and closed the deal at the Canal Corridor 100 last year.  When not chasing his personal 100-mile dreams, Timmer can be found with a great group of runners in Cleveland, Ohio that call themselves the Trail Tribe.  Meeting up on Saturday morning at one of the many great trails around North-east Ohio, this group is very welcoming.

Melinda Howard – That’s a great question!  Chasing the 100-miler, because it’s there?  Because it’s a huge goal?  Because I’m a glutton for punishment?  I believe deep in my heart I can do it!!!  100-miles is a nice round number.  It’s the carrot on the stick, the ultimate bucket list for this runner.  It’s the goal that might soon slip out of reach because I’m leaning pretty hard on 60 years old, not that age matters but it’s definitely not as easy running the super long stuff the older you get.  Mostly because I love to run!  Tippy top reason:  Aiden NEEDS a buckle! #IRun4Aiden

The 100-mile distance and personal endurance have not been the only challenges between Melinda and her goal.  During her two attempts at the distance, Melinda has faced an issue with her eyesight as she has reached the big miles.  Melinda is determined and runs for a little boy who has physical challenges of his own.  If you follow her running adventures you’ll see she dedicates all her miles, all her race finishes and her bold and beautiful smile to Aiden.  You can learn more about Melinda here.

Wendy Coulson Murray – Why do I run 100-miles…..well I can honestly say because it’s my happy place.  It is where I can zone out.  The 6 mile runs on the training schedule can honestly cause me stress.  The long, cleansing runs bring out my soul.  I love to see day turn into night because that is really when the race starts.  I love even more seeing the night turn back into day because it brings new life.  I love the problem solving.  I love the high that comes (when it happens) when you think you have nothing left and have given it your all and then a high five, a hug at the aid station, the glimpse of a blinking light and you realize you have more.  100s are hard.  They are never given.  You have to find it inside, you have to dig deep.  I love the conversations late in the night.  I love when the tears come when I know I’m going to make it.  I love to stand at the finish line watching others accomplish something they never believed possible.  It is very mental and you have to believe.  It’s a big elephant to slay but baby steps and keeping the finish line as the goal…..and then there is the reward at the end, my feet in a pair of fluffy socks and flip flops.

A veteran of SIX 100-miles races and numerous multi-day events such as the Vol State 500k, Tar Heel Ultra and OBX 200.  Wendy is one determined runner.  I was one of those blinking lights Wendy ran down at the Graveyard 100 in 2015.  I was near beat when she ran up behind me and passed me towards the end.  I had no fight to counter her, but now she was my blinking light driving me towards my goal.  I love the friendships…before that race we were strangers, Wendy is now one of my running family.  Wendy will be taking on “The World’s Toughest Foot Race” covering 135-miles from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA, the Badwater® 135 is the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet.  I’m sure she will be chasing blinky lights and dreaming of fluffy socks!

Victoria Griffin-KendraWhy 100-miles?  Is that really a thing?  Are you crazy?  How many days does it take you?  I get this all the time from my friends, family, coworkers and strangers.  The “why” chase the 100-mile race distance has been evolving over the last few years.  I ran my first trail marathon in March of 2016, one month after losing my Dad to lung cancer.  I was poorly untrained, lacked experience and the knowledge of proper gear.  It wasn’t a good or strong marathon finish but I did it.  However, during the race, I had already decided never to do this again.  In typical runner fashion, after the physical and mental pain wore off I was left wondering what’s next, is there anything after 26.2?  Well, I quickly found out, Oh yeah there is a lot more, there are 50k’s, 100k’s and 100-milers.  Wow, I thought, people run a 100-miles?  My curiosity was spiked and this journey that would develop over the next two years.  Running 100-miles is a long way, lots of hours, pain, fear, emotional ups and downs and facing the unknown.  So Why shouldn’t I?  This desire was internal and I wanted to prove to myself that I had the physical and mental ability to run 100-miles.  Chasing the 100-mile distance has allowed me to deal with difficult situations and problem solve on the fly in circumstances that are beyond my control.  I learned how to be uncomfortable for hours at a time, I learned to be alone, to stay positive and even to fall into dark places that only I had the strength to come back from.  The highs and the lows will come and go during this journey but finding the strength to continued will prevail.  There is no wrong answer for why you chase the 100-miler as it is ever changing and it’s not static.  Whatever your why is, continue to believe in it and chase the thing you love.

Victoria was successful at her first 100-mile race, and has the Georgia Death Race on her 2019 calendar.  The Georgia Death Race is a point-to-point ultra-marathon in the mountains of North Georgia.  The race is 70ish miles long, with close to 28,000 feet of elevation change.  It’s a monster but my money is on Tori!

There it is from all walks of life and for all different reason, we chase the 100-mile dream.  One thing that all of these great folks shared with me was that if they could do it….so CAN you.