The day before Rocky Raccoon…and the demographics of ultrarunners

I’m sitting at the Starbucks sipping a triple latte’ in Huntsville, Texas right now getting ready to run the Rocky Raccoon Hundred this weekend.

I’ve been chatting with several other runners. They’re from Canada, Utah, Washington, Texas, Mexico and several other places. I’m glad that I am not alone in my insanity. We really are a small, tight-knit family- if somewhat quirky and eccentric.

They’ve had some much-needed and well-deserved rain; I hope the course won’t be too muddy.  A local who has run this race before reassures me that the course dries out quickly. I hope he’s correct. I enjoy running in the rain and mud but wet shoes can make blister management challenging.

The course is relatively flat with  tree roots and a max altitude of perhaps 400 ft above sea level.

I told one of my students this week: “Compared to other ultras I’ve run, this should be a walk in the park!

On further thought, however, I realized that not only will this race actually be run in a state park, but by the end of it, I may very well be reduced to a walk! A walk in the park it might very well be!

Oh well, in an ultra every step forward is a step closer to the finish line. Run or walk, it does not matter. All forward motion counts!

I’m also recovering from an upper respiratory infection. I still have a cough and quite a bit of mucus in my lungs.  I’m not sure how I will do or how far I will be able to go. I understand that it is possible that I might not be able to do the full hundred in under 30 hours. I might get pulled for missing a cut off.

No matter.

There is no point thinking negatively or having self-doubt now. Such self-defeating thoughts could end my race before it’s even begun.

Hopefully all will go well. If not, it should turn out to be one heck of a training run.

I shall see.

On another note, this link takes you to a recent publication on the demographics of ultrarunners: I met Marty the lead author at the annual Wilderness Medicine Conference in Snowmass, CO last year.

The authors concluded:

“…ultramarathon participants are largely well-educated, middle-aged, married men who rarely miss work due to illness or injury, generally use vitamins and/or supplements, and maintain appropriate body mass with aging.”

It appears that I fit right in.

I’m not one bit surprised. Our sport is not usually considered to be one  very popular among rednecks or “Bubbas.”

Not that there’s one darn thing wrong with being a redneck. They’re great friends to have for going out to drink beer, four wheel and hunt or target shoot with (but most preferably not in that order).

If  any of you ultrarunners have not yet volunteered to participate in Marty’s clinical research study evaluating the health status of ultramarathon runners, I encourage you to do so.

The Ultrarunners Longitudinal TRAcking (ULTRA) Study will follow the activity level and health status of ultramarathon runners over the course of many years.  By doing so, they would like to determine if high levels of exercise alter health risks compared with sedentary or moderately active lifestyles. Although moderate exercise has been definitely shown to have numerous health benefits, no study has yet been done to show the benefits/risks of an extremely active lifestyle.

They are seeking participation by anyone who has finished at least one ultramarathon (50 K or longer).  They would like a large study population in order to successfully complete the study.    Each participant will then be asked to periodically update information about their activity level and health status over the course of many years. To participate, the initial survey is at:

Non-ultrarunners and occasionally even some short distance runners tell us how unhealthy running so far is.

But no one really knows.

Wouldn’t it be great to find out?

Well, time to go. My latte’  is finished.  I need to get my drop bags packed. Then on to the race course this afternoon to register and listen to the pre-race briefing.

Run well, live well, and be well…


2 responses

  1. Teresa Verburg

    Best of luck on your ultra-quest this weekend. I will be thinking about you while on my long run, sending good vibes. It’s all about the experience,..and I can’t wait to hear about yours.

    February 3, 2012 at 6:10 pm

  2. You will be having a great time by now. Look out for my Daily Mile pal, Kai! he is usually up near the front, great guy, I told him to look for you too. I am so tempted to participate int he survey, but I need first to get out there and RUN… So looking forward to your photos and race report. Coincidently, I am racing too, a 5K, not a 50K….

    February 4, 2012 at 4:00 am

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