Monday, February 11, 2008


A recent thread on the ultralist about what are the toughest 100's out there got me thinking...What exactly is tough about running a 100 miler?

Certainly, the distance, conditions, competition and sheer magnitude of the whole thing makes it tough but what is it about these races that tests the actual toughness of the runners themselves? What is it about these races that allows that toughness to be tranferred to everyday life?

These are interesting questions indeed and ones that I like to ponder when I'm pounding out the miles in the snow. Allow me a few random thoughts on toughness:

Toughness is entering a race thinking you can win and knowing that 30 other guys are thinking the same thing.

Toughness is having the balls to run away from the field from the start and never looking back.

Toughness is getting up out of the chair after puking, eating two hot dogs, and knowing that any thoughts of getting to Green Gate before dark are over.

Toughness is running straight through the last three aid stations at Wasatch knowing that a Cheetah is waiting for you at the finish.

Toughness is getting up after a two hour nap, running the fastest 15 mile splits ever on the Hardrock Course, and finishing 2nd without getting chicked:)

Toughness is passing Scott Jurek at Mile 83.

Toughness is knowing that a Bad Time is better than No Time at all.

Toughness is being tough enough to realize what you have and what you don't.


It's that time of year, folks. Time to take stock and get out there and train. There are no more excuses now. The weather is getting warmer and there are a couple of good tune-ups on the horizon.

As for me, I head to San Diego this weekend for a weekend in the sun with Shelly and five hours on the trail with my good friend and ultra mentor Tom Nielsen. Good times indeed!


Shane A. Jones said...

Its hard to stomach when its happening, but you're right. A bad time is better than no time.

Bryon Powell said...

Awesome post as always, AJW. Reminds me that I have to work on my toughness before next June.

Re "Toughness is knowing that a Bad Time is better than No Time at all." Two of my all-time favorite ultra performances are Matt Carpenter's run at Leadville in 2004 and Karl Meltzer's run there in 2006. These two runners, who seem to set course records more often than they are beat, both blew up big time but gutted it out to the finish. That's toughness!

TonyP said...

Great post. Have fun in San Diego. Hope to see you at Caumsett.

Joe Kulak said...

The biggest factor in toughness is effort. A perceived easy race course can be very tough if you go all out. The perfect combination of course difficulty, distance, conditions and deep competition usually makes for the toughest race. This can change on any given year depending on the variables above.

Krissy Moehl said...

Fun post AJW - thanks for sharing your thoughts which in turn triggers our own memories of toughness. It always seems toughness is the term to describe those not-so-perfect runs that we endure; those are also the ones we learn the most from.
Hope all is great with you!