the people on the list.” “But I’m not…I’m so much slower.” And suddenly you feel deflated, like you don’t belong and don’t matter. I know. I’ve spent plenty of time minimizing my accomplishments over the years because they didn’t meet standards like the ones in this issue.
If rankings like this do the same for you, know three things:
1. You’re in good company
In 2017, I finished my 100th 100-miler, ran a 200- and 240-mile race, and won two 100-mile races outright (at 54 years old, I might add). And I’m not on those lists. Neither are several others like Sandra Villines, the Badwater Champion who broke a 30-year old women's transcontinental run record.
2. You have more in common with the people on the list than you imagine. For starters, you probably both:
3. These lists capture the tiniest fraction of the story - the parts that happen to be easiest to measure and rank. They’re not everything. Race times, race size, the winner's age. Pretty basic stuff. As data gets easier to find and manipulate, rankings may get more creative but at the moment, Ultrarunning magazine may simply not have the info to list your well-deserved:
While I long ago stopped paying much attention to rankings, I’ll admit I enjoy seeing friends there and I’d be the first to let you know if I made it on a reputable one but it’s certainly not everything. The trick is to remember you’re so much more than a few categories on a few lists in one magazine. You have strengths, circumstances, and successes no one else does.
You’re special, list or no list.
I hope these three perspectives help because there will always be rankings. It’s human nature.
Your worth in this sport isn’t dependent on how you compare to other runners. A chart in the Ultrarunner of the Year issue even says so. You were a part of making this the first year North American ultrarunning finishes exceeded 100,000. So bottom line, this sport and all those top, best, and notable rankings wouldn’t be what they are without you.
You help make the sport what it is, so keep running, list or no list.
with the 50k, I thought who runs that far??? Then I kept on reading and saw the distances of 50 miles, 100k, and so on, and I was shocked to read this. People actually running these miles, on their feet, and not driving really?! So I had to expand my library and fell in love with “Born to Run”, that a friend recommended, and that set the tone. I’m constantly buying books on ultra-running from “how-to”, magazines, YouTube videos and documentaries like the Western States, Leadville, and so on. I like/want to learn who these ultra-runners are and even found some who are like me.
Now a bit of running background information about me for I have no speed a.k.a. a true back-of-the-pack runner, and a curvy girl with a lot of “junk-in-the-trunk”. I’m currently 60 years old until August. I have endurance; found that out when I ran my first marathon. I introduced myself to ultra-running in October 2016 with my first race being the Chicago 50/50; I did the 50k. This is an out and back course on the Chicago Lakefront, one of the flattest 50k/50m in the US.
Ultra-running has opened up a whole different level of running for me, and then that changed with learning about trails, where most of them take place. I am a city girl, never camped, not the type of person who rushes to a picnic hence, an outdoor-a-phobic. I hate ANYTHING that resembles a bug of any shape or size and let’s not even bring snakes into the picture for I will not even step on a worm, I’ll cross the street <lol>.
All of that changed when I told a friend of mine that I wanted to run some trails (what was I smoking) and he let me tag along on a race (July 2017). This took place three hours outside of Chicago. WHO KNEW that these places existed, talk about forest preserves to the 100th power. I signed up for the race and ran my first trail HM that had 3400’ elevation and 93º. I saw so many different species of creepy crawlers, small animals, and those HILLS, OMG but I still kept climbing, it took me forever but I finished. I was so proud of myself.
Fast forward to present day, I am currently preparing for my first “trail” 50 miler at Potawatomi Trails in Pekin, IL taking place in April. After getting four ultras under my belt (one DNF), I decided to look at the next level so the 50 miler is it. I’m still a newbie at ultra-running and have a long way to go but what I do know is that this community is so welcoming. I’ve met so many people who have given me advice, answered questions, and assured me that the main goal is about the finish. When I came in DFL last year I thought I had won the race for so many were cheering me when I finished.
So, for those of you who are reading this and feel that you might not be ready for an ultra, you’re ready! One foot in front of the other and just take your time, if you have a gracious time limit. I tend to look at races that have long distances such as a 100-200 miler so I know that I have time and not pressure to finish. I LOVE TO RUN!! I’ll never podium or win first place, but I do win because I finish. Now I must grow my buckle collection!!