Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

January 27, 2011

Extreme Running - So many races, so little time.

I've been mentioning a few of the longer races lately, and it seems I am really starting to dream big.  I mean, why just run a marathon, when you can go out there and endure the pain of multi-day, multi-stage, uber-tough races that will make the legs feel like jelly and the brain like mush? 

When I put it that way myself, well, I still think a few of these sound fun.  The trick is to fit them into the schedule of my life in the next few years, and then try to train for them, not get injured, and actually do one (or more).  Here's a few of the ones that make me shiver in dread, but still contemplate doing:

Marathon Des Sables:  After seeing the nasty blisters (in full HD color) of a few previous competitors, how could I not want to do this race!?!   I do love sand dunes, though, and our visit to Erg Chebbi in Morocco a few years back was a true highlight of our travels.  (Photos on our website, under Europe A-M: Morocco2.  I know, it's in Africa, not Europe, I really need to add a tab to my menu for Africa.  And get rid of Frames so I can link directly to a page.  Someday)

The Comrades Marathon:  Ok, it's not a marathon, it's really 56 miles long, and in South Africa.  And there is an ABSOLUTE 12 hour time limit.  But it's only the HUGEST ultramarathon ever.  This one has kept coming back up on my radar over the years, and in 2012, it is a "down" year.  Perfect for me, I might even make the time cutoff with a few downhills to help out!  I'm a slow runner, if you haven't figured that one out already.

The Athens Marathon:  To qualify to run the Comrades Marathon, I must run a road marathon.  Evidently all these rough British fell races don't count towards the big one.  So why not run the original "marathon" route from Marathon to Athens?  Coincidentally, in 2010, it celebrated it's 2,500th year.  How extreme is that?!?

Ultra-Tour Du Mont Blanc:   Thanks Nick, for putting this one on my radar.   Doing the circular hike in a week or two, as most folks would choose, also sounds fun, but quicker is always better, right?

The Bob Graham Round:  Big. Scary.  27,000 feet of elevation over 60 odd miles, and I have to arrange for my own support.  And finish in under 24 hours.   It didn't sound so hard, until I read about how many people fail a few times before they succeed (if ever). I think I should go take a hike in the Lakes District to see if I even enjoy the terrain over there, before thinking too hard about this one. 

A "Real" Ironman:  Yes, I've done two Ironman-distance triathlons, but that's a mouthful, and what I really want to claim is a the M-Dot.   Now I just need to find the perfect one, preferably one without a lot of cold weather, rain, freezing lakes, or high winds.   Oh, and not too many hills on the bike, either.  I mean, the distance is tough enough on a nice day, why make it harder on yourself?   I'm still looking.  And trying to convince myself that Ironman UK and Ironman Wales would NOT be good choices, even though they are close to home and easy to get to.   The water will be freezing at both of them, and oh by the way I am a slow swimmer too...I many never make it through the swim in 14 C degree water, much less the other events.

To aid me in finding a few other crazy events, I picked up a book called Extreme Running by Kym McConnell and Dave Horseley.  It's a summary of the great ultrarunning events on every continent, with nice photos, sort of a coffee-table book.  Just the facts, really, don't expect many personal tales, but it is coinciding nicely with getting my future dreams all sorted out!   I won't call them New Year's resolutions, or even a plan, but it's always good to dream.


  1. Oh wow, have I got a run for you! How about the Transvolcania on La Palma, Canary Islands?
    83.3 km starting at sea level in the south, up to 2426m above sea level and then back down to sea level again in the west.
    But it's not as bad as it sounds ... it's much worse! With accumulated ascents of 4,415m and descents of 2,910m, it's sure to have the strongest Ironman begging for mercy.
    But there is a half marathon too, so you could always have a bit of a holiday too and - survive!
    Here is the link - http://www.transvulcania.com/

  2. Ann, wow the Transvolcania does sound like a challenge! I'll keep it in mind when I plan my trip to La Palma, someday.
    When I climbed Mt. Teide on Tenerife(from the car park in the crater), I had also considered starting all the way from the beach in Playa Las Americas. Of course, that would have made it a huge expedition instead of a morning hike. It sounded like a good (albeit stupid) idea, at least until the altitude headache hit me after my summit hike! Now I think I would need some accimatization time first at altitude.
    I see La Palma doesn't get so high above sea level, so maybe that's the one I should aim for next time!

  3. haha I was looking at the Extreme Running book this weekend with a friend. We have had the idea of planning one big event from each continent (barr the Poles as we arent particular fans of the cold). We just need to win the lottery now and its chocks away ole bean :P
    You should have a go at the Bob Graham or even the Paddy Buckley Round though. Great events for those folk who are tough, tenacious and slightly warped :)

  4. Dorian, I share your aversion to the cold, which is just as well, since the cost of getting to Antarctica is probably more than I make in a year. Not to mention flying to a small island off the coast of Madagascar, or getting to the Amazon rainforest!

    But I will try to get myself up into the Lakes this summer, to see how scary a BG might really be :)

    Good luck luck with your 6 continents, someday!