I believe one of the bigger contributors to my ultra longevity is attempting new races annually. Last year I ran 4 new (to me) races and this year I have four more on my calendar. This has helped me remain interested in the sport and motivated to keep logging miles every week. Even in the depth of winter when it’s dark, cold, and just plain miserable outside.
When I look for new races, I like to mix up both the distances as well as the formats themselves. Over the nine years and 50+ ultras that I’ve started, I’ve raced everything from 50K up to the hundred mile in distance. I’ve also done a couple timed races (12 and 24 hours). And one race last year without an ending (Capital Backyard). I’ve participated in large races with 300+ entrants and I’ve toed the line with less than 10 others. Mostly I’ve run trails, but I’ve also done a hundred miles on roads unsupported.
Just when I think I’ve seen and done it all, along comes the DUC 100K. It’s two back-to-back 50K with the first being overnight and the second consisting of the Algonquin 50K. To up the degree of difficulty, they don’t tell you anything about the overnight race until an hour beforehand. Not even the location. They change the course up each year so you never know if it’s going to be trails, roads, loops, out-and-back, or whatever. All you know going in is the distance.
When I heard about the race a couple years ago, it immediately went onto my bucket list as something I just had to do. At this point in my ultra career, it’s all about collecting unique experiences. I’m not out to compete as much as I’m out to complete.
DUC will also finally allow me to cross February off the list of months that I’ve completed an ultra in. I’ve managed to hit all the other months over the years. December (2021) was my next to last month. It’s hard to find many winter races to do in the Mid-Atlantic region so February has remained open until now.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of doing this large variety of races is that I think it’s helped me become a better endurance athlete. I’ve learned over the years to keep moving my body through all types of weather conditions and course layouts. It’s not necessarily made me any faster, but it’s made the events much more enjoyable. Now I get to see how I handle 15+ hours in sub-freezing temperatures.
Variety – the spice of life!