Articles by Gary Cantrell

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...

Barkley Marathons

WE WAITED. I waited. The race staff waited. Crews, defeated runners and the media, everyone waited. We stood there staring at the woods, and the woods stared back. In this day of GPS, spot trackers, cell phones and...

People

There was one thing that worried me about my Transcon. I did not want to miss out on the people. One of the great joys of journey running is the people you meet along the way. Passing slowly across the countryside gives...

Pessimism Is Your Friend

Forget everything you have heard about a positive attitude. What every ultrarunner needs to be successful is a healthy dose of pessimism. Optimism is a weakness; a flaw in our personality that our subconscious exploits t...

Dreams of the Transcon

It is seven months from today that I plan to start my six and a half million steps across North America. I have this dream of standing on the beach in Newport and watching the sun rise out of the Atlantic Ocean, befor...

Tangents and Technology

I have this image in my mind that I think of as the GPS Olympics. Runners take their places along the curved starting line for the 1500 meters on the track awaiting the starting gun, just the same as they always have....

The Inconvenient Truth

The most frequent cause of a DNF might surprise you. Are most DNF’s caused by starting too fast? Are they brought on by the mythical “bonk?” Are we most often forced out of races by sprained ankles, pulled muscles, elect...

Rules

Rules; who likes ’em? Nobody. Who needs ’em? Everybody. Running ultras is supposed to be fun. The last thing we want to deal with is having a bunch of rules to worry about. Unfortunately, ultrarunning is practiced...

Barkley Marathons

Uncertainty is, perhaps, the cruelest foe of all. The race was slated to begin in the dark, at 0142 hours. Mere minutes into the race, the field entered a netherworld in which the choices were pitch black without a li...

Windows

As a high school coach, I share the knowledge with every other high school coach, that one of the critical components of a successful season is senior leadership. It is not that your seniors have to be the best players o...

Training for Life

As an enthusiast for both sports and education, I find that many people who value education have a distorted view of sports. They feel that sports are a negative, that they are overemphasized, and the time spent on prepa...

On DNFs

Although there has been some debate about whether it’s correct to call them “words,” the Eskimo really do have 50 different words for “snow.” This only makes sense, as these Arctic natives live in a world of snow. It mak...

DNF

Living Life

In the September running of A Race For The Ages, some 28 runners aged 70 and up took the field. When the dust settled, 25 of them had amassed 100 or more miles. Moreover, the winner was 68, and five of the top 10 were ov...