Articles by Sarah Lavender Smith

Survival of the Fittest

Almost everyone I know has had a rough year, even cataclysmic for some. Friends were furloughed from their jobs, and many have had to manage work with schooling their kids at home. Some had to evacuate during fast-moving...

The Self-Supported Stage Race

They travel internationally from countries around the globe to race together, run with enough food and gear for seven days in lightweight packs on their backs and traverse some 250 kilometers over remote, rugged terrain,...

Listen to Your Mom: Be Prepared

“Anything can happen in the mountains,” I tell my 19-year-old son, Kyle, as I show him how to use the SOS button on my GPS tracking device. When I hand him a windbreaker, he looks at me as if I’m insane, because we’re li...

Running Up for Air

I kicked my shoe into a snowy slope to gain traction, planted both trekking poles in front of my body for leverage, then laboriously took a single step and paused to catch my breath. I was on my fifth trek to the summit...

Why I Run Ultras

Leaving my house for my first long run in two months, I feel ambivalent about going 25 miles. Part of me senses I’ll cut it short at 20, because isn’t that enough? No, I need to log a solid five-hour run. But why?Recentl...

Spring Cleaning For Ultrarunners

The start of spring evokes themes of cleaning and regeneration. The longer days and greening of the hillsides traditionally prompt people to get organized and perhaps celebrate rebirth as part of a religious or pagan tra...

Getting Through Ultra Obstacles

I looked at the tall barbedwire fence that blocked the route and thought, “Is this a joke?” I was running past midnight in southern Utah during the 53-mile portion of the week-long Grand to Grand Ultra, a self-supported...

Self-Supported Stage Races

While packing for an upcoming ultra, I’m swapping my regular hydration pack for a 24-liter pack that’s a bit roomier and will enable self-sufficiency. It looks like a daypack and makes me wonder how on earth I’ll fit eve...

Ultra Lessons for Real Life

When my son, Kyle, proudly grasped his diploma and pumped his fist in triumph during his high school graduation this past June, I cheered loudly while infused with feelings of relief, happiness and love. As odd as it mig...

A Marathon Can Rev Up Your Ultrarunning

My husband and I have an ongoing argument about whose car is better. He drives a sleek BMW 4-series convertible, which I honestly don’t like to drive because it’s too low to the ground and attracts attention. My vehicle...

Falling Back in Love with Ultrarunning

Lying in bed unable to sleep one night, I thought about running goals for the upcoming year and struggled with feelings of self-doubt and ambivalence. I’d blown my long-run plan for the weekend but didn’t really want to...

You Don’t Have to Super-Size Your Ultras

During the final miles of the challenging Telluride Mountain Run, while descending a rain-slicked ski slope and trying to prevent wiping out in the mud, I reveled in the prospect of finishing this extreme course when sev...

When a Search-and- Rescue Hits Close to Home

The sound of a helicopter circling over our property near Telluride, Colorado, filled my ears for several days straight. The sight of teams of volunteers dressed in hiking gear, fanning out in the aspen groves and bushwh...

Get Over the Guilt of Leaving Your Kids to Run

Recently I shared advice online about how mothers can and should fit running into their stretched-thin lives. The message resonated with runner-mom Amy Kline of Indianapolis, Indiana, who works as a registered nurse whil...

Bake the Cake

A woman contacted me in early January seeking advice for her first 50k in April. She had already registered for it and brimmed with excitement about going the distance and crossing the finish. She had about 14 weeks to t...

The Beauty of the Buddy System

Barely past the halfway point of Run Rabbit Run 100 last September, my legs and feet rebelled. Stiff muscles, achy joints and soles so tender that I winced with each step conspired to abort yet another attempt to run. De...