Let’s kick off our RTB 2016 coverage with an article on ultrarunning by our own celebrity ultrarunner Pete Guza:
Any runner worth the shoes they put on knows a proper marathon is always 26.2 miles- the distance inspired by the legend of an ancient Greek messenger who raced from the site of Marathon to Athens in 490BC (later refined in the early 1900s to the modern distance); but there will always be people who ask, “How far is THIS marathon you’re running?” That’s when you roll your eyes, take a deep breath, and politely respond, “The same as every other marathon you moron!” But when it comes to ultramarathons, there isn’t one standard length; an ultra is qualified simply by being any race distance beyond 26.2. That being said there are certainly more common distances: 50K, 50 miles, 100 K, and the granddaddy of ultras- 100 miles.
Much like the marathon stage, there are higher stakes and better known ultras out there. If you’ve read the book Born to Run, you’re familiar the infamous Leadville 100, aka The Race Across The Sky- held annually on trails and dirt roads near Leadville, Colorado through the heart of the Rockies. There runners climb and descend 15,600 feet, with elevations of 9,200’–12,620’… FYI Presidential nominee Gary Johnson has run Leadville. Then there’s Badwater- self-described as “the world’s toughest foot race.” It goes 135 miles from the sub-sea-level Badwater Basin, in California’s Death Valley, to the 8,360′ gateway to Mount Whitney; oh, and it takes place in mid-July, when the weather conditions are most extreme and temperatures can reach 130°F! At the other hand of the ultra spectrum, there are lots of FATASS races, which are no-frills events not far off from our Saturday BRC runs: there’s a predesignated distance, route, and start time, but there is often minimal or no water/aid stations, medical support, police details, swag or finishers medals, and they’re usually free. This concept is popular because ultras cover a lot of mileage (sometimes deep in the woods) for a long period of time, that’s often expensive to put on for small numbers of participants, so it can be big bucks to register for a 50 or 100 mile race.
If you’re considering your first ultra, 50K is just 5 miles longer than a marathon and a regulated pace should get you to the finish line with training comparable to that of 26.2 plan. However, be aware that ultras are often run in summertime (more daylight hours) and through mountainous trails (easier on the knees and feet) which make them tougher than a cool autumn marathon across flat asphalt. A popular ultra nearby is the Salomon Trail Running Festival at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Maine, which takes place every Memorial Day weekend. They offer a 25K, 50K, and 50 mile option depending on how many laps you want to run and how early you want to start running that morning. The BRC is forming a team for Pineland 2017. Just saying.
For those who are anxious and prefer to stay within the 28 square miles of North Andover, you’re in luck- the BRC Ultra Border Crawl is just around the corner in October! It’s a 36 mile figure 8 course that will touch every border, including Salem, in a single day. Hey 19 Matty Demers has put on this BRC staple event for the past several years and it’s always very well supported and organized. Folks can run either the 16 mile loop, the 20 mile loop, or just keep going until they submit and want to hop in the leapfrogging SAG wagon. Last year we had our first Lady Crawler, Lisa Ritchie, complete the full task. Sometimes there’s a BRC rookie who goes from 0 to 8 in one run to capture their member number. We’ll see what’s in store next month, and which direction/loop sequence we’ll have in rotation.
Lastly, there’s the obscure Reach the Beach ultra team concept. Born from the idea that “longer is better,” this week will be the fourth year for our Wait For Us ultra team, comprised of just 6 runners to cover the 200 miles from Bretton Woods to Hampton Beach. Stand by for more on RTB in the coming weeks as tensions rise between our Wait For Us ultra men; Don’t Wait For Us classic BRC team featuring the Van 2 misfits; Wait For It Wait For It comprised of BRC-MVS mudbloods; Commotion to the Ocean fair weather BRC creepers; and What Are You Waiting For OCD speedsters. Undoubtedly there will be some great stories coming out of those stinky vans, but the real question is: who is going to poop in the woods?
Stay Speedy My Friends.