Friday Five

My wife and I were brainstorming about what types of posts we could feature here, and one thing we both thought would be interesting would be a weekly list of some sorts. So, Friday Five was born.  Each Friday we’ll post a top 5 list.  It could be anything from top 5 songs I’m running to that week, to top 5 life time running goals.  My kick off list, of course, is:

Top 5 Ultramarathons on my Bucket List!

5. Spartathlon – Greece

Who wouldn’t want to re-trace the footsteps of Pheidippides.  This is a must do race for me.  It may not be anytime soon, but I will, one day, run this one.

SPARTATHLON is a historic ultra-distance foot race that takes place in September of every year in Greece. It is one of the most difficult and satisfying ultra-distance races in the world because of its unique history and background.

The Spartathlon revives the footsteps of Pheidippides, an ancient Athenian long distance runner, who in 490 BC, before the battle of Marathon, was sent to Sparta to seek help in the war between the Greeks and the Persians. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the day after his departure from Athens. Inspired by the report of the Greek historian, in 1982 five officers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF), who were also long-distance runners, traveled to Greece, led by Colonel John Foden. Their purpose was to ascertain whether it was possible to cover the 250 kilometers ( 153miles ) separating the two towns in one and a half days. The enthusiastic British team showed that the report by Herodotus was entirely plausible.

4. Ultra Maraton Caballo Blanco – Mexico

Like most runners, I have read Chris McDougalls “Born to Run”.  This is one of my favorite books so I definitely want to do this race one day.  Running in a race started by Micah True, aka Caballo Blanco, with the Tarahumara runners, would be an amazing experience and one that I am sure I would never forget.

Started by Micah True (The legendary Caballo Blanco), the Ultra Caballo Blanco.  In honoring all former traditions of this 50-mile foot race, Raramuri (Tarahumara) Runners completing each loop, receive vouchers which provides maize, beans, rice, flour and non-GMO seed corn for their families. This reward ensures nutritional sustenance to both the physical and cultural survival of the Raramuri people. Blankets and food are also given to all Raramuri runners and their families who come down for the race.

3. Badwater – Death Valley, CA

The number #3 race for me would have to be the Badwater Ultramarathon.  This race has peaked my interest ever since I first started running.  It is a 135 mile, mainly pavement, run where temps are known to be in the 100’s.  Reading the crazy stories about legendary runners like Scott Jurek, while during the 2005 Badwater after 70 miles in Death Valley, started shaking, vomiting, then collapsed onto the roadside would scare most runners away.  Not me!  For 10 minutes, he didn’t move. Then he got up and shattered the course record.   There are many more stories about how this race has, and can, destroy a runner.  The race has recently been moved from Death Valley, CA to Lone Pine, CA due to a ban on races through Death Valley.  Though not the same course, I still think it is a must do! Hopefully they are able to get the ban lifted and get back to the original course someday.  Another reason this is a must for me, my kids think this is the hardest race someone can do.  🙂

AdventureCORPS, Inc. hosts BADWATER® 135 annually in July of each year. Recognized globally as “the world’s toughest foot race,” this legendary event pits up to 100 of the world’s toughest athletes—runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and mountaineers—against one another and the elements. Covering 135 miles (217km) non-stop over the most epic terrain imaginable and finishing at the end of the road on Mt. Whitney, it is the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet. The 37th anniversary edition will be held July 21-23 (Monday-Wednesday), 2014.


2. Hardrock 100 – Colorado

This race to me is as bad*ss as it get’s. 100.5 miles of some of the most challenging mountains that you can tackle.  The beauty along the way is 2nd to none, but the degree of difficulty is what makes me really want to run this race.

Forty-eight hours may seem like a pretty generous amount of time to finish this 100-mile race. But add in altitude sickness, headaches, and knee-crushing terrain, and the Hardrock, which has been held in the San Juans near Silverton, Colorado, each July since 1992, gets pretty grueling. The loop includes 33,992 feet of ascent and descent, the most of almost any ultramarathon in the world. Since the average runner takes 41 hours to finish, most have to run through the night at elevations where temps can drop below freezing, navigating scree-covered slopes by headlamp. Being above treeline for most of the course, racers are also vulnerable to lightning and freak storms.


1. Western States 100 – Squaw Valley, CA  

Been there!  Done That!  ; ) 

The grand daddy of them all, Western States 100.  This race, to me, is the pinnacle of ultrarunning.  I was fortunate enough to be able to run this race this year and hope to be back again soon. The experience was 2nd to none.

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race.

Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the world.

Following the historic Western States Trail, runners climb more than 18,000 feet and descend nearly 23,000 feet before they reach the finish line at Placer High School in Auburn. In the miles between Squaw Valley and Auburn, runners experience the majestic high country beauty of Emigrant Pass and the Granite Chief Wilderness, the crucible of the canyons of the California gold country, a memorable crossing of the ice-cold waters of the main stem of the Middle Fork of the American River, and, during the latter stages, the historic reddish-brown-colored trails that led gold-seeking prospectors and homesteading pilgrims alike to the welcoming arms of Auburn.

For more than four decades, Western States has been home to some of the sport’s most stirring and legendary competitions, and has spurred the capacity of spirit of all runners, of all abilities and from all walks of life, from all over the globe.

With more than 1,500 dedicated volunteers, offering the sport’s oldest and most prized possession – a sub-30-hour finisher’s bronze belt buckle or a sub-24-hour finisher’s silver belt buckle – and owning 100-mile racing’s richest and most compelling history, Western States remains one of the undisputed crown jewels of human endurance.


What are some races on your bucket list?

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