Friday, 13 April 2012

How Many Ultras Can You RACE Per Year?

It's over three months into the year and there have already been several very high quality competitions at races this year in the US, before the main season gets going. The Way Too Cool and Chuckanut 50ks had great fields, Lake Sonoma 50 miler is this weekend with a large contingent of top talent. And the coming months will have so many more races that just get more exciting (for me, anyway) every year as they get more and more competitive.

So this leads me to feeling like I'm missing out when I can't get to all the events I want to be at. I didn't get to any of the races mentioned above, although I have had some fun races in the past month and am not complaining about those. In the past I just entered races virtually every weekend, but the more I race ultras, the less feasible this becomes, especially having moved to 100ks and 100 milers. Mike Wardian seems to be the only person who doesn't get worn down if he does a huge number of marathons and ultras and I always used to run 30+ per year, but over the past year I felt like I was doing too much.

It's a tough decision to have to miss so many events and it's obviously not possible to run everything, even at an easier pace, especially given travel and timetable clashes. But if you're as addicted to racing and running as I am then missing out on some fun races just can't be helped. At least there's the option of volunteering or crewing to still be part of events without having to wear yourself down.

So have fun at Sonoma 50 this weekend, you lucky bastards! But I'll be sweeping the Peterson Ridge Rumble 40 mile course down the road in Sisters, OR. So life could definitely be worse.


  1. Max King also seems to be able to race a ton with no ill effects (mix of ultras and below).

  2. Great discussion topic. I ran a bunch of ultras last year (11) varying from 50k to 100k in order to gain more experience for my first attempt at a 100 mile run (Vermont) this year and towards the end of the season I was mentally burned out. The big difference for me is that I am running these events while you and the other top guys are racing to win the events. I just try to stick to the adage, "this is just a training run" during most of my races last season.

    1. I like that :) "The big difference for me is that I am running these events while you and the other top guys are racing to win the events".

  3. Hi Ian,

    I have never raced as much as you, but I ran 10 long races (range = 26-87 miles) over 14 months in 2010/2011. It seemed to work great for a while, but it eventually caught up with me. I doubt I will be racing more than 3-4 ultras per year from now on.

    Incidentally, I am really excited that you are taking time off from racing and are giving yourself a chance to be fresh for Western States. This may be the 'British Year', with you, Jez and Nick Clark all having excellent chances to make the podium. Good luck and keep the interesting posts coming!

  4. Great discussion really made your blog a good source of learning. Good work keep it up !!!
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