I run because long after my footprints fade away, maybe I will have inspired a few to reject the easy path, hit the trails, put one foot in front of the other, and come to the same conclusion I did: I run because it always takes me where I want to go. — Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Runner
Since the ancient Egyptians, there has been long distance racing, and today, countless marathons take place around the world each year. In 2017, more than 18 million people ran in organized competitive road races in the USA, and millions more participate in social, non-competitive organized running events.
Why run a marathon? Some people run a marathon for the physical exercise or the challenge. Others for the competition. Then, there are those that run for very personal reasons.
Johnnie Jameson, a Vietnam War veteran and US Postal Service employee, runs to heal, and he’s been running the LA Marathon since 1986, earning him the title of ‘Legacy Runner’. Mr. Jameson shares his story and explains his unusual backwards running style in Mile 19, a short documentary video by Big Pup Film.
English long distance runner and marathon world champion, Paula Radcliffe, finds beauty in running, and believes it’s a gift as well as an art– a way of expressing yourself. Take a run with Paula, and listen as she shares her thoughts about running.
And, there are those that just love the feeling of that runner’s high and get hooked on testing the limits of their bodies.
An ultramarathon (aka ultra running & ultra distance) is any foot race longer than a traditional marathon distance (26.2 miles/42.2 kilometers). There are two types of ultramarathon events: distance (the winner runs a specific distance in the shortest amount of time) and time (the winner runs the most distance in a specific amount of time). Ultra distances are typically 50 kilometres (31.1 mi), 100 kilometres (62.1 mi), 50 miles (80.5 km), and 100 miles (160.9 km), but distances as well as race courses and terrain vary. Timed ultramarathon events range from hours (6, 12 & 24 hours) to days (known as multi-day or stage race events). Self-supported ultramarathon stage races where each ultrarunner must carry all supplies needed to survive the race, including food, are considered the most demanding.
If you’re serious about this extreme sport, the training requires intense dedication. In the short video Ultra Man, Robbie Britton talks about his mindset and why he does it.
Paddy O’Leary grew up in Ireland, but didn’t do much running until moving to San Francisco. Watch his return to Ireland to take on the ultramarathon challenge of self-navigated 115 kilometer Wicklow Round, and rediscovery of his home through running in the short video ‘Coming Home’.
“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” — Kathrine Switzer, Marathon Runner
Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS)
Find a Running Club in USA, Road Runners Club of America
How to Start Running by Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times Well (why run, how to train, and tips on picking your gear, fueling your body, hydrating, and preventing injury)
Why Stretching Might Not Make You a Better Runner by Richard Gray, BBC Future (March 28, 2019) – Research provides some surprising findings and tips on how runners can improve performance
Training Programs for Marathons and Half-Marathons (beginners-intermediate-experienced), Chattanooga Track Club
International Association of Ultrarunners – promotes and develops long distance running worldwide by encouraging events and activities and sanctioning competitions
10 Things No One Tells You Before You Run an Ultramarathon by Damian Hall, The Telegraph (May 4, 2017) – Take it slow, eat a lot, and enjoy the sport of ultra running.
Follow Sarah Brown as she trains for US Olympic trials in the short video documentary series, Run Mama Run. You’ll be inspired by her story of determination and family.
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Feature photo is courtesy of Martins Zimlickis, Unsplash CC0