This is a preview article from the September / October 2022 issue of UltraRunning Magazine. Not a subscriber? Please consider becoming one

New Adventures

By: Amy Clark

Trail races that are sub-ultra distances have an important place in our sport. Ultrarunners sign up for “ultra” distances (mileage over 26.2), and most will also admit that they sign up for shorter races on the regular—for good reason.

Stepping back into training, I recently ventured to a trail system that I knew would be perfect, as the trails were similar to my goal race and the hot, exposed terrain would be ideal for heat training. The only reason I am aware of this particular 10-mile loop is because of a race that’s held there every spring. A perfect “warm up” for bigger races in early summer, it allows runners to shake out their legs on a flat, fast course with a few fun, technical sections thrown in to keep runners on their toes. While I’m still trying to familiarize myself with some critical turns on the trail, I plan on spending a lot of time out there until race weekend.
This is just one of many reasons why sub-ultra trail races are so important. Here are some others:

  • They are great motivators to get back into training.
  • The race-day routine doesn’t require as much preparation, but it’s still helpful to go through the motions.
  • Shorter distances give you an opportunity to see where adjustments need to be made in training when weaknesses pop up.
  • Since recovery is quicker after short races, they can easily be incorporated into a training weekend.

We’ve added a new column that will tackle the history of shorter trail races, as well as the benefits they offer. In our first “Ultrail” column, assistant editor Jeffrey Stern writes about the history of one of Alaska’s oldest races: Mount Marathon. This short, yet brutal race offers an incredible adventure for all who dare to register (that includes Jeffrey). Read more about it on page 19.

Speaking of adventure, this issue tackles what adventure means in the sport of ultrarunning. Jason Koop offers advice on incorporating adventure runs into your training on page 10. Readers get schooled by Buzz Burrell on the specific terminology he uses for his adventure runs on page 17. Writer Carrie Highman takes us to a backyard adventure in Germany where a World Record was set, on page 26. And Jeffrey Stern reports on the event that most of us consider to be one of North America’s biggest adventures: Hardrock. He gets a first-hand account from some of the winners and top finishers on page 32.

Whether you’re a budding ultrarunner or have years of ultras under your belt, it’s always good to get a fresh perspective on what adventure means to you. Maybe you’ve been running the same trails for years or you’ve always wanted to try a specific route—let this issue be motivation for trying something new. Race day is always an adventure but creating one of your own can open new doors to trails and added motivation.

It’s easy to forget, but trying new things is always a step in the right direction.

Keep Moving,