Adventure running can inspire FKTs (fastest know times), traveling to remote trails or pairing running with other sports. Fortunately, much of ultra and trail running is already what many consider an “adventure,” and no matter how you spin it, we are all adventure runners.
This year, I was fortunate to receive media credentials for the Barkley Marathons. It was an opportunity to see the preparation that athletes undertake for this “adventure” up close and personal, and understand how physically and mentally dialed in runners must be prior to race day. However, Barkley is an extreme example of adventure running with orienteering, limited technology and no aid provided other than a crew.
Barkley runners must come prepared for almost anything: freezing temperatures, excessive precipitation, heat and wind. In order to beat a course that is unmarked requires a mindset that has a solution for obstacles it encounters, along with an ability to push through pain and suffering. Witnessing these athletes in person is awe-inspiring and offers the belief that we still can’t conceive what the human body is capable of. But Barkley is just one extreme example of adventure running.
Witnessing these athletes in person is awe-inspiring and offers the belief that we still can’t conceive what the human body is capable of.
Given the extreme amount of snow that has dumped on the West Coast this year, many ultramarathons have had to adjust accordingly. The Peterson Ridge Rumble 40-miler in Sisters, OR, had to drop to a marathon distance on race morning due to waist-deep snow from an overnight snowstorm. Runners adapted, running through numerous blizzards and still hanging around to enjoy the finish line festivities, even though freezing conditions persisted throughout the day.
The same weekend, ultrarunners in the Columbia Gorge, near Portland, OR, were experiencing torrential downpours during the Gorge Waterfalls 50k and 100k events. Rain gear is always recommended when running in the Pacific Northwest, but hours of running along rocky trails in persistent precipitation can take its toll. However, those looking to experience the beauty of the trails got what they came for—rainy adventure, waterfalls and all.
In this issue, we explore the idea of adventure running and all of its many forms. Ellie Greenwood writes about Bhutan’s Snowman Race on page 14, Pete Kostelnick dives into the idea of what an FKT can do for your running on page 25 and Dean Karnazes revisits his 24-hour adventure run above Times Square on page 70.
My experience at Barkley was nothing short of eye-opening when it comes to some of the most well-trained athletes in the sport and the adventure they choose to embark upon when applying for the 100-mile race. Ultrarunning will continue to be an adventurous sport, whether that means a brutal race through the mountains of Tennessee, a snow run on the slopes of the Cascade Mountains or a rainy day on trails in the Columbia Gorge. What can’t be emphasized enough is the preparation, mindset and adaptation that is mandatory when it comes to staying safe and having fun. We’d all like to believe we could climb the ascents above Frozen Head State Park for 60 hours, but adventure running means something different to us all.