I’ve always been interested in who signs up to run an ultra. Below are some stats that I pulled from Ultrasignup. While it’s not completely comprehensive (US and trail/ultra centric), I think it’s pretty representative of most runner’s background.

Age group splits for the 2023 NJ Devil 100 Mile.

This is a fairly normal distribution from what I normally see. The M40-49 age group has been the largest demographic in virtually every ultra I’ve ever looked at. And for whatever reason, women are usually only about 20% of the starting field for hundred milers. Equally interesting is that the under 30 crowd is rather underrepresented at only 10%. I guess you need to hit a midlife crisis or two before turning to ultras. As a 51 year old male, I have moved into the (even) older cohort of these races. I’m now “competing” with runners half my age. What a wonderful sport!

Experience levels for this year’s race.

By way of comparison, I have 53 races under my belt, started running ultras in 2014, and have finished 22 hundred mile races. This places me towards the higher end of the experience spectrum, but far from the most experienced. Mike Smith just finished his 200th hundred mile race last month at Umstead and will be gunning for #201 this weekend. He’s basically finished about a third as many hundreds as the rest of the field combined. Amazing. Just goes to show you no matter how far you progress or much you accomplish, there’s always someone who’s done it twice as fast or ten times as much.

What I also find amazing is how few crusty veterans there are running ultras. Less than 15% of the starting field has been running ultras for more than 10 years. A full third have been running ultras for only the past 2 years. When I started out, my insecure self just assumed that everyone else has been out here running ultras forever and I was the only wanna-be imposter in the crowd. The reality is much different. For one reason or another, most runners drop out of the sport within ten years. I think most of us probably think this will last forever, but things change. Priorities shift. Health deteriorates and motivation ebbs. Who knows how much longer I’ll be willing and able to run ultras, but I plan to enjoy the time I have left. Continuing this weekend at the inaugural NJ Devil.