Dear Ask an Ultrarunner,
I'm new to the sport and have been watching any relevant ultramarathon movie and reading every popular ultrarunning magazine article and blog that I come across. Rather than winning lots of high profile races every year, it has become clear to me that the quickest path to stardom and sponsorship is developing a top notch training gimmick. Heroic feats of endurance, competitive eating, barefoot running, and sexy, high mileage training logs are already taken. Can you recommend a gimmick for a budding young ultra star? I am confident that given an appropriate publicity stunt, I can easily handle the second requirement -- criticizing other gimmicks as such.
This one is really close to my heart. There have been many conversations at RVR about the viability of burgeoning, young ultra running stars and their place in this world. When they start to wonder about such existential ideas I always threaten them with the old, " If it gets any slower around here I'm going to put you in a shoe suit and set you out on the highway to direct traffic to this forsaken place. " Then the idea hit me, this is exactly the place for burgeoning, young ultra running stars. When you are in a mascot suit, or what have you, it doesn't matter how bad you smell (it's a requirement,) how bad your feet look, how dreaded your hair are (that's correct grammar,) or your general disgust with the everyday human. After the initial shock, it dawned on me, you can run your next race in the said suit (of shame.) It wasn't that long ago that I too ran around the streets of SLC in a salmon suit to promote the conservation alliance, pro bono of course, and found it to be an amazing attention grabber and late night show stopper.
Then again, and if all else fails, I would suggest working it with a headband and a band-aid on your left cheekbone like Grammy nominee and 2005 song of the year artist Nelly. Cloaked, an ode to Western States 2010.
I recently read Douglas McChristopher's "Freedom to Run Free Like You Really Should Run." What an awesome book! In this Homeric tale, McChristopher recounts how he traveled to Chico to run in the footsteps of the Sierra Nevada Pale Feet, a reclusive group of runners descended from an ancient warrior tribe whose existence revolved around running.
The Sierras don't just run, they ran backwards. They drink massive amounts of malted beverages, fuel themselves with pumpkin seeds and fashion their own "toe shoes" out of pumpkin vines. After reading McChristopher's operatic ode to running, I decided to follow the author's lead and adopt the Sierra's methods. Amazingly, ever since I started running backwards, I've been completely free of injuries. I've finished five ultras, running them all backwards and using pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie as my only fuel. My times are slower than they used to be, but I feel better than ever! I'm wondering what you think of McChristopher's book. Have you read it? Have you tried running backwards? Any plans to attempt a backwards Western States?
Seriously, this book sounds like a rip off. I mean I know the guy that reinvented long distance backwards running and his ass is from Gunnison or Crusted Butt, can't remember because whenever I saw him running backwards on highway 135 it always screwed up my sense of direction. Here's an excerpt from another blog about Ben Wyatt.
And another Ben routine that I didn’t know about…common to witness Ben running up to Crested Butte, a thirty mile run, only to run home backwards, “It balances the muscles,” he said.
“Thanks to Ben Gunnison is a better place,” Renee Brown of Gunnison County Human Services added.
I didn’t know Ben Wynn, and I never talked to him even once. I don’t know if I could have communicated to him how he represented Gunnison, and freedom and individuality to me. I think the fact that I didn’t know him made me idealize who he was.
I would've thought a crazy man like that would be from the Butt though, or the Yooj for that matter. And, from what I remember it's called retro running. By the looks of it, you have to pretty darn good at forward running to get sucked into retro running, so good on ya.
I would try to run Western States backwards if it guaranteed me just as much publicity as perhaps say, winning it. On second thought I have now answered question #1 and will proceed directly to question #3.
Dear Ask An Ultrarunner,
I am so excited about the field this year. Seems like each year Western States has the best field ever and this year is no exception. You guys all being students of the race (and one of you the two-time defending
champion) who are your top five picks for the men and women?
Jimmy The Greek
If the top 5 aren't replaced by any number of able bodied runners and are in any semblance of this order then I've done my job.
1. Hal Koerner
2. Anton Krupika
3. Geoff Roes
4. Tsuyoshi Kaburaki
5. Killian Jornet
1. Nikki Kimball
2. Tracy Garneau
3. Meghan Arbogast
4. Devon Crosby-Helms
5. Caren Spore
And the honor roll continues;
Andy Jones Wilkins