A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Rising Popularity of Ultramarathons

I thought that this would never happen at all. I guess I was wrong.

Ultramarathons have become so popular that a lot of new people to the sport are starting to consider them in their racing schedule. In fact, so many people are starting to run ultras that a lot of the ultras are starting to fill their fields quickly.

Take the Vermont 100, for example. The organizers opened the 2013 race this year on December 1. As of December 3, it had completely filled. The waiting list was also completely filled a couple of days after that.

It took several months to fill the 2012 race earlier this year.

It went so fast that it closed right before the December 8 Western States lottery. The organizers had to include several select spots to those people who won a coveted spot on the lottery who intend to do the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning.

I really thought the popular marathon distance would keep most people away from doing ultras. Maybe I was wrong.

Maybe the 50k distance is the new "marathon" now.

I, for one, welcome the newcomers to the ultra club. Most of these newcomers aren't the "weekend warrior" types that you see in regular marathons, as I have feared. They are experienced runners who are trying their hand at a new and more exciting realm of running.

And this means more races are on the horizon. There seem to be 2 new races in upstate New York next year (Manitou's Revenge 50 Miler and Rock the Ridge) and a flurry of Fat Ass (free, no frills races) ultras that are popping up all over the area.

That is DEFINITELY a good thing. :-)

Shot of the course for the new race Manitou's Revenge. You can see the other breathtaking photos here

Rock The Ridge course of the Shawangunk Mountains. Click here to see two other videos of this beautiful course.


A couple of lectures that I'm putting together that can help athletes plan their training and hone their racing strategy are almost done and will advertise them shortly.

The first one is Planning a Winning Training Program, which goes into how to use periodization to optimize your training program so that you can perform at your best in your upcoming races in 2013. I'll show you what periodization is and how to successfully implement it into your running, triathlon, and ultramarathon training programs. The course takes about an hour and is only $10 for the lecture. People can then come to me afterwards with their own programs and I can advise you on how to improve on it.

The second lecture show the differences between a marathon (or a race of lesser distance) versus an ultramarathon. Other than distance, the overall philosophy and strategy of an ultra is on a completely different planet than regular marathons. In other words, the odds are definitely stacked against you if you take the same strategy you did in a marathon and succeed in an ultra race. Aside from philosophy, there are physiological, mechanical, and mental factors that must be addressed in order to do well in an ultramarathon. Again this course will be in the spring, will take an hour, and will cost $10. Even if you have an inkling of an interest in doing your first ultra, this class will be worth it.

Both courses are slated for early next year sometime. Let me know if you're interested.

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