A Little Story About Jeremy…
January 1, 2009 — Captain J | Edit
I ran my first trail ultra marathon in 2008, after only running for a little more than a year and never running a race or a practice run longer than a 10k. But, that didn’t stop me from entering in, and even running the Laurel Highlands 50k trail race in June of 2008. The race was phenomenal and it showed me a side of my being that I had never experienced….this side that was seeking something, I don’t know what, but some force was driving me to finish. I went out in the first 12 miles with the leader (a nice fellow from Utah) and another runner (from Taiwan) that finished second. At mile twelve, securely in third place and hitting my first aid station, I learned one of the great lessons about ultra running; you must pay attention to your body and feed it. Two miles out of that aid station my legs turned into stones, I cramped like I had never cramped before, and nothing was going to fix it. Other runners were nice enough, as they started passing me, to offer a variety of electrolyte products, all of which I was sure I didn’t need, but none of them helped. As I struggled through the last two-thirds of the race, a major storm hit and there I was in agonizing pain. In the middle of no-where, nothing with me except a hand-held water bottle, not even a shirt on…I was finished, lost, desolate.
This was were I saw a glimpse of what it was I was seeking. I still can’t explain what it was that I experienced, but other ultra runners understand. You get those quick views into your soul, and you get to see the very core of what drives you. Somehow, I made it to the finish in 6:23 and had completed my first trail ultra marathon…this is when the journey started.
I wasn’t always a runner, in fact, I was one of those guys who looked at runners like they were crazy, at least the long distance runners. I ran track in high school, but kept my distance to 200 meters or less. My senior year of high school, a lot of hard work spent on the sprints paid off with a championship state victory for my medley relay team where I ran the second 200 meter leg, and a second place finish in the pole vault. In the US military during my young(er) adult years, I had to run as far as 3 miles, which I became moderately proficient at. At the age of 19, I would hope that I was in good enough shape to run three miles in a reasonable time, which I did clocking 18 minutes even. Once I was done with the military, however, I was done with running. Don’t get me wrong, I loved to be outside and enjoyed hiking through the mountains of western Pennsylvania, but no running for me.
Jump ahead to ten years later. Now having a family, a bachelors degree, a masters degree, starting work on a doctoral degree and teaching at a local university and I was turning 32 years old. In fact, the day of my birthday, March 21 of 2007, I had one of those moments. It’s been described many times by many other athletes, that moment where you look at yourself in the mirror and think to yourself, I’m only in my early thirties, and I look like this? Is this what I am happy with? Is this how I want to exist for the rest of my life? My answer was a resounding no, so I decided to put on some running shoes, some junky old ASICS that had seen many a yard-mowing, and headed down to the local walking track to “get some health in my life.” The run was painful, I remember it well. It was one mile and took me about 20 minutes to complete. My face was beat read I was soaked in sweat and it was only about 35 degrees outside.
Once I caught my breath from the run and got past the remarkable thoughts filling my head telling me that this was a dumb idea and I was in fine shape, I didn’t need to put myself through that kind of pain again. Once that was all gone, I decided I would try to make myself stick to this running thing. I made it a game by keeping a log of every run which I still maintain. The early months of my running were maxing out at about 12 miles…for the entire month, and I thought that was great. Then I started reading about this sport called ultra running. I went through the rest of 2007 just trying to break the 8 mile mark on my runs successfully, but the full time was becoming infatuated with these people that could run 100’s of miles and more. The seed was planted.
I knew that this was what I wanted to do, but I also knew that I had a lot to learn about this sport…so that was my goal in 2008, which I admittedly didn’t do a very good job with. I ran one other ultra late in the year. I decided, in a very last minute manner (5 days prior to the event), to run in the Tussey Mountainback 50-mile ultra. This was not really one of my best choices, but it was fueled by personal strife and the need to feel like I was doing something with my life. So, with no training (literally, I ran 5 miles a night for the 4 days prior to the event), I toed the line for the USATF 50-mile nationals. Much to my surprise, I finished the race in under 9 hours.
So here I am, young, eager, wanting to learn more, wanting to run more, wanting to help others understand this amazing sport as I try to understand it. A sport where, more than any other, the human nature is tested, pushed to its ultimate limit. We all run for a reason, but many of us run for the same reason… we are seekers.
The Start of Planet Ultramarathon
This website aims to cover all related ultrarunning and ultrawalking information for events and races around the globe. This includes races at the Elite through to the FatAss level as they all deserve to be reported and form part of the sport. This also includes Ultrarunners and walkers who raise money for charity through their achievements. Sometimes their claims can be “slightly out there”, but the truth will always come out and you the reader can decide what is correct and what isn’t.
Since going out at midnight and watching the “Westfield Runners” trudge along the Princess Highway at Sale, Victoria, I have been hooked into the sport of “UltraMarathon”. For those unaware an ultramarathon is running or walking any distance over 42.195km.
I was never graced with an athletic bone in my body, but since that day in 1988/89 have participated in a few ultras and have a personal best of 121km at the 24hr distance and 78kms at the 12hr distance. I have also written a book about the Westfield Run, several other articles, served on the AURA Committee, helped the Colac race over the last five years and have run a couple of websites and blogs.
“Planet Ultramarathon” is my latest creation. Several years ago I use to log on religously to David Blaikie’s website “Ultramarathon World” and like most of the community I was dissapointed when David moved on.
My aim is for this site to help fill the void that David’s site left. There are a lot of other good World and National Ultra sites in existance now and I hope that we can all network and keep promoting the sport on the Internet. The relationship between myself and Abichal Watkins of multidays.com is an example of this networking. The growth of ultramarathon running and walking depends largely on how we promote ourselves on the WWW!
What do I want this site to do? It’s going to report race results and stories from all around the world. It’s going to present previews to races and cover solo runners and walkers. I hope that in time it will contain a comprehensive calender of races around the world and be the main collection of ultra links on the world. In time, I hope to expand the medical and training resources available for the ultra sport. I am also willing to create web pages for ultra runners or ultra races that do not have a presence on the web. Yes, Im aiming high and no doubt it will take time to achieve. But Im looking forward to doing this for the sport I love. i have never claimed to be an expert in the sport, but i have had the ear and confidence of a lot of top runners over the years and have been fortunate to record some of the historic events of our time.
I am always looking for people to help with the site on a permanent basis. It could be helping to add entries into the calender, sourcing articles and results from their country or collecting photos to put on the site. There is plenty that can be done and it would be done as a “TEAM” effort.
Over the past few weeks I have been lucky enough to gain some helpers for the Website. So much so, that I now consider the website a collaborative website owned by everyone in the sport and not just me .
The other member of the team is:
Tony Mangan – The ultra running achievements of Tony Mangan from the Metro St Brigids Athletic Club in Dublin are quite extraordinary. It takes your breath away just reading about them. In October 2003 Tony climbed off a treadmill at the Dublin Marathon expo having run for a solid 2 days. His reward was the World 24 and 48 hour treadmill running records. Twice this year he has completed in 48 hour races. In Brno in the Czech Republic over St Patrick’s weekend he won covering 426 kilometres whilst 2 months later in Surgeres in France he came second after running 401 kilometres. We interviewed Tony recently to find a bit more about this amazing athlete. Link
If you would like further information or would like to contribute some thing for the site, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org All contributions are welcome.
To contribute, please send an email to email@example.com
Here are some of the articles that Phil has written over the years.
Bryan Smith – AURA Hall of Fame Inductee