Ultra Runners

Watch These Runners

Here are the personal stories of ultra runners who I'm proud to introduce to you. This is the start of the new series which focuses on athletes that have an extraordinary story to share.

I've met many interesting distance runners at races and also through my website.

I do thank all those who have so far contacted me to share their personal and often touching stories. Stories about what they've experienced racing ultra distances and also what changes this has brought for their personal lives.

The question that most commonly arises when someone strives to step it up and join the club of ultra runners is how to even get to the point and start pushing beyond the limits that, in reality, are nothing more than self-limiting beliefs that keep you from not stepping up to the distance. Each ultrarunner has a different tale to tell of how they were suddenly sparked by the idea of running beyond the marathon distance.

This is the platform to present those who stand out from the crowd, athletes with a mission that inspire others to go off-track and finding out where the road leads to.

My mother Anna Maria Lange deserves a special mentioning. Her story as a runner dates back to 1985 when my younger brother eventually went to kindergarden. She had been a heavy smoker since her teenage years and quit from one day to the next without ever touching a single cigarette since. On her first run, she didn't make it very far and nearly hyperventilated on the living room carpet when she came home but somehow, she had been infected with the running virus.

She prepared for her first marathon a year later, then raced the famous NYC marathon. Throughout the normal ups and downs that life brings, running to this day continues to be the constant in her life.

She's raced a few ultramarathons with very respectable age-group finishes and finished the Corsica Stage Race in 2009 at the age of 54.

My mother taught me to believe in the greatest gift we each carry within us - that of following your intuition and believing in your strengths. About three months prior to the Marathon des Sables, she said to me: "Anna, I can already see you cross the finish line getting that medal you've dreamed of for so long. It will be reality for you soon. You got it, you will do it!" Words that indeed proved to be true and ultimately inspired me to keep on running. Up to this day, she's maintaining her rhythm of running 5-6 times per week and sprinkles in some intervals and tempo runs when she's preparing for yet another (ultra) marathon.

Mary Nathan's story isn't just plain and simple about endurance running. Her exciting journey into the ultrarunning community only started this year. Mary started running at the age of 50 and is now, twenty years later, on a mission to succeed in her first ultramarathon ever.

Gretel Fortmann is a very dedicated and committed ultra runner. She first contacted me in late December last year inquiring about getting some help with her training. She had previously set out the Canadian Death Race to be her main goal for this year. After months of preparation she stood by the start line and finished this grueling ultra race in a fantastic time.

Chasing the Runners High is the story of how Ray Charbonneau pushed his passion for running up to, and then past, his limits. Ray shares what he learned, what he should have learned, and what he still has to learn from running.

Focusing on a selected group of female ultra runners, Jamie Donaldson is truly a leader in the field of ultrarunning winning Badwater three times and has also been dominating every 100-mile trail race in the U.S. that she's decided to run. As far as peak performances go, Jamie can hardly be beaten knowing that female endurance athletes tend to reach their peak in their late 30's and 40's. So we can expect many more amazing race results from Jamie. I've been following her blog for a while and feel inspired by her positive attitude and total passion about the sport. Her training principles somewhat differ from what I would normally do but high-mileage training seems to work wonders for her. Jamie regularly updates her blog with awesome stories from her races so check out her site.

Krissy Moehl also belongs to a group of American ultra runners and is one of the few who recently decided to turn pro. She's been a runner from an early age and competed during most of her high school years before she discovered ultra trail running at the age of 21. If there is one constant in her life, it's always been running. And isn't it true that very often heading out for a long run can help to solve some issues and problems. The mind becomes free and at the same time focused on what really matters. Patagonia has composed a great video about Krissy's journey and her mission as an ultra runner to bring out the best in yourself.

Scott Jurek is one of the most renowned male athletes in the ultrarunning scene. Exceptionally popular for winning the Western States Endurance Run, the Spartathlon and a number of 24-hour races amongst other countless successful race finishes, he's also put himself in first place as an ambassador to all vegan runners in the scene. In various interviews he's emphasized how much better he trains and performs since switching to a vegan diet.

In Christopher McDougall's book 'Born To Run', he's portrayed in much greater detail also focusing on his initial motivation to step it up to the distance and what lessons he's learnt from training with runners from a Southern American tribe that are known to be the best ultra runners in the world.

What's your success story? What sparked your interest to run an ultramarathon in the first place and which obstacles did you have to overcome?

What is your favorite ultramarathon of all?

What's your ultimate tip for everyone who's still hesitant about going the distance?

Share your most memorable moments, your highest highs and lowest lows here and simply send in your story by filling out the form below.

Photos of great race finishes are welcome and soon you will be featured on this page, too.

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