Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Ultras Part 1

Summer in the Northern Hemisphere is mostly down-time for marathon runners. While there are some races in northern climes like Canada and Scandinavia, it is generally too hot to tolerate a race of that distance. There are, however, a couple of notable ultra races during the summer. First, in California, is the Western States Endurance 100. Originally a horse race which became a little known grueling foot race, Western States gained notoriety after being featured in books such as Born to Run and Dean Karnazes' autobiography, Ultramarathon Man. The race starts at about 6,000 feet elevation, then climbs 18,000 feet and drops almost 23,000 feet over the 100 mile course through the mountains. This year, I came across the race's finish line live stream (unfortunately, after the race was over) and once I dug around a little more, I realized just how much the race has embraced the internet for distribution and vice versa. The live finish can not be replayed, but the live stream of tweets (#ws100) can. Buried in there, I found a blog (new to me, that was able to pin down the winners (Ellie Greenwood and Killian Jornet) for some great interviews and Ellie's story about racing a bear up a tree towards the end of the race. While my wife thinks I would do well in ultras, but the idea of chasing off a bear after running 80-ish miles is likely to damper her enthusiasm. Alternatively, if I have the time next year, I might be able to watch it in real-time.

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