Articles by Gary Cantrell

Don’t be a WOTTE

They used to call ultrarunning a subculture. But we have grown. As a matter of fact, we have grown so much that now there are subcultures within the subculture. Prominent among these is the aid station subculture. It has...

The Art of the Death March

We used to have a saying about running ultras, “You can only gain minutes, but you can lose hours.” Maybe that old saw is still around. If it isn’t, it should be. It holds a lot of truth as an “either-or” choice. It h...

Pride in Performance

Sometimes it feels as though ultrarunners have a particularly perverse way of viewing the sport. For some reason, we seem to take pride in our incompetence. I guess that sounds rather harsh, but think about it, how ma...

Faces Across America

To cross the continent on foot is a transcendental experience. There is no other way to fully grasp the sheer size or stunning scope of the land. There is infinite time during those eight million steps to really see t...

Happy 40th Birthday Ultrarunning

When I was asked to write something about the 40th year of UltraRunning Magazine I thought, “This will be easy.” After all, I have literally grown up with the magazine. I could not have been more wrong. How do yo...

Foundations

For more than 30 years I was a drystone mason, building rock walls without mortar. It was a very pleasurable, if somewhat arduous profession. The pace and cadence, visualizing of the outcome, handling of the stones an...

Evolution

As man evolved, he created the tools necessary for survival. We don’t even have to think in order to breathe. We can consciously control breathing if we need to, but whether we give it any thought or not, we are going to...

How Far and How Long?

We all come to realize, eventually, that the only constant in life is change. And we all know that if you cannot adapt to change, you will become obsolete. Still, it is hard to imagine that some concepts are not immutabl...

The Great Race

I have to admit that I hesitated when Dave Proctor approached me about holding a virtual Backyard Ultra. Backyard Ultras are not that difficult to stage however, they are not well suited for a virtual venue. On top of th...

The Last Race

I have a friend, Phil, who ran a 1:48.01 for 800 meters in college.Aside from being a performance that is beyond the dreams of most people, what does that have to do with running ultras? Actually, that particular perform...

Hundo and Vert

You have to feel sorry for the ultrarunners of my generation. We came into the sport when the concentration was about one ultrarunner to every 100 square miles. And that was in the hotbeds. There were no books, magazines...

An Ode to ARFTA

A Race For the Ages is an ultra of a different colour. Technically, it is an age-handicapped time race. Held on a one-mile loop in Deadman Park (lovingly known as the Deadman Mile) in Manchester, Tennessee, runners are a...

The Month of Fear

When you line up at your next ultra, you can take comfort in the fact that you are already likely in the top half of all the entrants. Between the opening of entry and the final field stepping to the line, about half the...

The Ultrarunner’s Knee

There are certain issues that every ultrarunner will face at some point or another during their running career. By the time an ultrarunner has reached the level of a veteran, they have learned how to prevent or repair ev...

Fake Math

Nobody really knows who came up with it, but the quote, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics,” is a part of American culture. There is a good reason for the ubiquity of this quote. Data and st...

The Barkley Marathons

If a runner knows one thing coming into the Barkley, it’s that they know nothing. The starting time, the exact route, the conditions they’ll face – even many of their opponents – all of these are mysteries to be revealed...

Obstacles or Opportunities?

I knew there were problems. I could see whispered conversations taking place just out of earshot. Awkward silences would ensue when I reached my crew members. The handy schedules of upcoming crews had stopped appearing o...

How to Finish Your Own Barkley

Over the past 30 years, I have been privileged to witness some absolutely astounding performances at the Barkley Marathons. Every finish has been the result of a nearly perfect race, by a supremely prepared athlete. With...