The idea of running farther than 26.2 miles is a daunting thought for many of us. It also may intrigue you, given that ultra running is less about speed and more about endurance and pushing your body and mind in an entirely different way. Getting out on the trails, immersing yourself in nature, also are big draws for ultra runners and ultra runner wannabes.

To listen to this episode, click on the player at the top of this post. Or, download the episode (and subscribe to the show!) using your favorite podcast app.

Three ultra runners and one soon-to-be ultra runner join Heather on the show to talk about the allure of going long–really long. These four runners have gotten to know one another even better through their love of ultra running training and racing. Ali Lopez, a frequent guest on the show, returns to talk about her ultra running adventures of late (you also can find her detailed race recaps, as well her story of coming back to running after a serious eye injury, on the blog). Her first ultra was a looped course, which she says is a nice way of entering the world of ultra running. Zach Sayre, who ran cross country in high school, has wholeheartedly jumped into the ultra running world in the last year or so—and he’s since run six ultras and won two of them. He’s done one 50-miler as well as 55Ks and 50Ks. 

Jonny, Ali, Zack and Britt.

Britt Gervais has run three ultras, including a recent one with Zack in Canada. Both agreed this race—Ultra Trail Stokely Creek 55K—was among their favorites because of the challenging terrain, beautiful fall color, attention to detail by race organizers, and camaraderie among the runners. “The community that comes with ultra running is the absolute best,” Britt said. “At that race you could totally feel it … it was the best.” Britt talks about how she didn’t necessarily think she’d do more than one ultra. But that changed after she finished her first one. “I ran it and when I was done, I thought, oh, no, this is it. This is the thing. I am going to keep going with it.”

Jonny Tornga, a producer of the MRG podcast, is gearing up for his first ultra, the Yankee Springs Winter Challenge on January 4, 2020. Jonny started running and racing a few years ago, really getting into the sport after moving to the Big Apple. “I grew up as a runner in New York City, where it was very competitive. It was all, ‘go, go, go’ and tons of speed work. ‘Get faster, faster, faster and stronger,'” he said. “And coming back here [to Michigan] and getting injured for the first time, which took me out for pretty much the entire summer, really kind of changed my mindset. What am I really doing here? I’m pushing myself too hard. And for an ultra, you cannot do that. It will destroy you. You will fail. So for me, in a lot of ways, it’s me trying to become a better runner. To teach myself to slow down, to not worry about these things that don’t ultimately matter.”

These friends also are behind the Iceman Runneth (Unofficial Fun Run) event this Nov. 3. This route, the same as the Iceman Cometh mountain bike race course, is 30 miles and they’d love to have you join them! Runners will start in Kalkaska and finish at Timber Ridge on the east side of Traverse City. You can learn more about this run on Facebook here

If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. 

A special thanks to Mike Moran, Mike Youker and Jonny Tornga of Quarter After Productions in Traverse City, Mich. for producing the show.

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