I’m a planner. I spend a lot of time thinking about the future. What could happen, what I’ll do in certain circumstances, and how I’ll react to the unexpected. I do this in all aspects of my life: personal, work, and of course my hobbies. I am not the type of person to go from moment to moment with no thought of what’s to come next. [shudder, shudder] The amount of preparation and planning required to run ultras is definitely one its attractions. So even though I’m still a couple months out from my first race of 2024, I’m already thinking about next year.

As I begin thinking about my calendar, my first thought is about variety. One of the reasons I’m still active and engaged with the community after ten years (?!?!) is that I try to keep things as fresh as possible. This means new races, new distances, and/or new formats. Looking at this year’s schedule there are two omissions that I’d like to cover in 2025: backyard, journey run.

It’s funny how time heals all wounds. When I ran CBU back in 2022, I didn’t really have an interest in doing another backyard race. I enjoyed my experience and thought it’s a cool format, however it wasn’t something I wanted to schedule every year. I’m comfortable at hundred miles and this format definitely made me uncomfortable. Well, now I think I’d like to take another stab at one of these races. I’m currently thinking of doing Bullshit Backyard (March, north of Scranton) or maybe back to CBU again.

My other priority for next year is to do another journey run. I had so much fun at Buckeye last year that I probably would be doing it again this year if my schedule wasn’t already locked in. I love just about everything about this format. These are typically very small races with an old school fatass type feel to them. Doing them unsupported means you need to work out all the logistics yourself. These are also on open roads, which is completely different than any other ultra you’re going to do. Swammie Shuffle and Coast to Coaster are the current front runners. I’m leaning towards the latter as rural Ohio roads are a little more appealing than the Outer Banks.

If this isn’t your idea of an ultra course, journey runs are probably not going to be your thing.

Once I’ve figured out which backyard and journey runs I’m going to sign up for, it’s time to pick a couple new hundreds. Rim to River has been on my radar for a while and next year is time to finally cross it off my To Do list. I’ve been intrigued by Jigger Johnson (i.e. the east coast Hardrock) since I heard about it, however the timing has been awful since it has been held the week after Eastern States. Well, this year it’s 3 weeks before ES100 which might just be enough time for me to recover before my annual pilgrimage to Little Pine State Park.

My other considerations are going to be shorter ultras and volunteer opportunities. I’ll be an empty nester starting this fall as my son heads off to college so theoretically I’ll have some more free weekends to plan. I’ll need to discuss with my better half what a good balance looks like. Is once a month too often? Not often enough? It’ll probably come down to what events we can do together and/or how close to our house they are.

The benefit of getting an early start on planning out my race calendar is that I can give it more thought. This means I end up doing races that I’m very excited about and not just events that tickle my fancy. Most years I’ll swap out a couple races for alternatives as I noodle on what seems most fun. So really this is more of an ideation/outline stage rather than a formal blueprint for what 2025 will look like. Though I’d be pretty stoked if this ended up being my final race calendar.