Sometimes people ask why I run ultras. While there are a lot of reasons, the challenge is a major draw. Specifically, I love the challenges presented by 100 milers. Every race is wrought with potential problems that need to be solved on the fly.
Top of the foot hurts? Better re-lace my shoes.
Quads are starting to burn? I have to adjust my gait.
After 30 packets of Gu, I feel like I’m going to barf. Looks like I need to find another food source.
The more difficult the course, the greater the challenge. I’m more interested in running a perfect race than I am finishing in a particular time. For example, my Grindstone time was a rather pedestrian 29:06… but I feel like I did almost everything right. Every problem that popped up was fixed. As a result, I’m extraordinarily pleased with the finish. This is why I run these races.
This mindset has led to my “bucket list” of races I’d like to run. Gary Wang’s excellent realendurance.com website has a tool that ranks the difficulty of ultras. The results are based on relative finish times from people that have run a variety of races. While not perfect, it’s a pretty good measure of the difficulty of any given race. The calculator uses Western States as a baseline (100%). Races that are more difficult than WS have a higher percentage; easier races have a lower percentage.
My goal is to run all the races tougher than WS.
Why? Quite simply, they present the opportunity for the most interesting challenges. So… here is the current list and the relative difficulty percentage:
- Barkley (270%)- invite only, Tennessee
- 150 mile version of McNaughton (170%)-Vermont in May
- Badwater (161%) note- this is an exception. I have no desire to run a 135 mile road race.
- Hardrock (159%)- Colorado in July
- Susitna 100 (128%)- Alaska in February
- H.U.R.T. 100 (128%)- Hawaii in January
- Plain 100 (127%)- Washington
- Grand Mesa (120%)- DNFed this year at about mile 60
- Wasatch (119%)- Utah in September
- Massanutten (115%)- Virginia in May
- Bighorn 100 (112%)- finished
- Bear 100 (112%)- Utah in September
- Grindstone (111%)- finished
- Superior (111%)- Minnesota in September; I’ll talk Christian Peterson into running this one with me.
- Pine to Palm 100 (110%)- Oregon in September
- Angeles Crest (109%)- Southern California in August
- Tahoe Rim (109%)- Nevada in July; Paced Jesse Scott here.
- Yellowstone- Teton (107%)- Wyoming in October
- Moab (107%)- Utah in March
- Ozark Trail 100 (104%)- Missouri in November
- Cascade Crest (104%)- Washington in August
- Leadville (104%)- I’ll likely skip this one unless I was going for the Slam
- Cactus Rose 100 (102%)- Texas
There are a few missing from the list, like Chimera (will run it this year), Oil Creek, Mogollon, Arrowhead, and the Brazil 135, but this is more or less my race bucket list.
What about everyone else? What’s on your bucket list? More importantly, why are those particular races on your bucket list? Share in the comments section!