Taking your running to the next level is tough, but you’ll never feel alone along the way
All sports seem to have a certain camaraderie that goes with them. Often teammates share a love for their sport or seem to be part of a brotherhood. In ultra running, the community that runners share seems to go much deeper, way beyond sharing a love for the sport. There’s an immediate connection with others and you just know “these are my people.” There seems to be a draw for many runners when they decide to cross over to the ultra distances and experience the community that awaits them.
So what is it about this ultra running community? I’ve found in my experience some unique things that make up the bond in this group of runners.
If you are a distance runner, marathon or longer, you’ve probably been asked by friends and family why you do it. Many ultra runners are even considered “crazy” by most who just can’t understand their desire or drive. Within the community of ultra runners, there’s no need to explain why we put ourselves through such long distance runs, pain and suffering. We don’t have to put into words our drive or motivation, we just quietly run alongside one another on the same journey. There’s no questions to answer as to why. Our fellow ultra runners are our safe family of acceptance and give us a sense of belonging.
Short distance races are all about the win, that first place trophy, while longer endurance races are about the finish. The reward to the ultra runner is the accomplishment of completing the race. In the ultra distance races even the faster runners encourage, give high-fives and cheer on all the other runners. When ultra runners pass on the trail they look at each other and say “good job” and offer words of encouragement no matter what pace they are moving.
It’s a supportive community where at times the slowest or last place runner has the largest crowd cheering them on as they cross the finish line. It’s this unusual level of encouragement that greets all levels of ultra runners and truly makes you feel part of the ultra community.
In ultra distances of 50 miles, 100K or 100 miles the runners get help from others. Crew and pacers are used by runners to support them during these race. Sometimes supportive family members help, but mostly its other ultra runners step in and help one another. For some runners it’s a large group that helps get them to the finish line. They often sacrifice days of their time to help one another accomplish their goals and races. While on the course if a runner is hurt or needs even the smallest item, from a Band-Aid to food, a fellow ultra runner will stop and offer help or personal items from their own pack to aid another runner. It’s a community that helps each other cross the finish line.
The ultra running community is a group that encourages, supports and takes care of its own. Run a race or two and you might find yourself saying, “these are my people.”
Published November 2016