Should I run an Ultra Marathon?

I  have been very public about how I am going to qualify for the Boston Marathon via the Rochester Marathon this fall. The Flower City Challenge 1/2 marathon is this weekend, and while I have been prepping for this, I have been longing for more trails.

Recently we launched TrailsROC, the Dirt Cheap series began, many of my running friends are hitting up The Segahunda Trail Marathon in a month, and my interest to run a road race has faded a bit as my passion for trails has taken off.

I have begun thinking more and more every day about running further and further. Every time I put in more miles on a long training run, it did not feel enough. I wanted more.

Last fall we ran the Mud Slog, A 12k in the woods, we also ran the Dirt Cheap Stage Races (3 races in 2 days), and it did not feel like enough. I felt ready for more. Ready to run. The trails made me just want it in a way the roads never have.

With that said, I began thinking about an Ultra. Last night we picked up hydration packs. Now we can carry food and water on long runs comfortably.

Then my brain really took off. I started to see what races were open for the fall. What would be acceptable. What could I accomplish with the base I currently have and the hard work I am willing to put in.

So. Where does this leave me?

The Western NY Ultra Series is one option. This leaves me with a lot of options. I like the choices. Some of these are roads, and while I like the ability for support, and the easy terrain. I believe ultras are meant to be run off the road. On dirt trails, climbing up and down. Getting muddy, getting wet. That removes BPAC and Can Lake.

The BPAC 6 hour distance classic

Highland Forrest 1, 2, 3 (30 miles)

The Finger Lakes Fifties

The Green Lake Endurance Runs (50k, 100k)

The Can lake 50 ultras

The Mendon Trail Runs (50K)

Other choices outside of the ultra series include the following.

Segahunda Trail Marathon

The Beast of Burden 100 mile SUMMERWINTER

The Virgil Forrest Monster Marathon

Virgil Crest Ultra 50k, 50 mile, 100 mile

This gives me a lot of great options. The Monster Marathon and Segahunda are considerable in terms of the challenge. They have finishing times that mirror many of the longer races.

What about Boston? I am confident I can qualify for Boston… I have the leg turn over and the lung capacity. I think I will give it a go anyway this fall at the Rochester Marathon. The great thing about goals are that they are adaptable. I am surely going to put in the work that would help me get to Boston. I just may not want to as much as I want to go crush some trails….

Have you ever run an Ultra? Do you want to run one? What do you love most about trails??

Let me know, then keep on keepin on

10 thoughts on “Should I run an Ultra Marathon?

  1. missippy

    I have done 10 marathons so far and know that I will continue to run them. But lately, I’ve been getting into trail running, too. And an ultra is calling my name. I’m aiming for a 50k next spring, although which I don’t know. I say you go for it, but I’d wait until post Rochester to really give yourself the best chance at qualifying if that’s a big priority.


  2. Indi

    I’m all about trails! I actually have a very hard time making myself run roads anymore. just finished a 40miler and cannot wait until my 50!! Trails are so invigorating and freeing and cannot be beat in my book!


  3. Jonathan Auyer

    Awesome post Eric. I am going to run the Vermont 50k this year. It is part of my 30th birthday goal, so I am going to go balls out and get it done! I miss some of the races back NY way, so maybe in 2013 I will make an effort to come back that way. Good luck this weekend and with the ultra progress. You can do it; keep moving forward.


  4. Ben Murphy,

    “Should I run an ultra?” That’s a rhetorical question, right?

    Of course!

    Ultra, for me, has been more about unlocking a different mentality than mileage. Sure, I’ attracted to the unknown of “can I make it that far?” But the most powerful part of ultras isn’t the distance – it’s the realization that 1.) we’re capable of a heckuva lot more than we realize, and 2.) the only limitations are the ones we place on ourselves.

    Ultra, for me – and I think for many others, is a VERY powerful allegory/metaphor about life. The initial allure of mileage is just the tip of the iceberg for what you discover in the process…


  5. Cheryl

    No one needs permission to run an ultra if that’s what you want to do…(except if you are trying to enter a 100 miler for which you have to qualify)
    Just do it and have fun!

    Have done many runs over the 26 and have sweet memories of them but they certainly weren’t the most important thing in my life I have done-and no they didn’t “change” my life.


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