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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Dear Meghan....Take Five"

This is the fifth in a series of synchroblog posts regarding the Western States Endurance Run (WSER).

Dear Ask an Ultrarunner,

I'm new to the sport and have been watching any relevant ultramarathon movie and reading every popular ultrarunning magazine article and blog that I come across. Rather than winning lots of high profile races every year, it has become clear to me that the quickest path to stardom and sponsorship is developing a top notch training gimmick. Heroic feats of endurance, competitive eating, barefoot running, and sexy, high mileage training logs are already taken. Can you recommend a gimmick for a budding young ultra star? I am confident that given an appropriate publicity stunt, I can easily handle the second requirement -- criticizing other gimmicks as such.

Otto Indulgence

Otto - I am confused - can you tell me why you want to be an ultra runner? For stardom and sponsorship? If you want to be a REAL star, get out there, train hard, and win some races. The media stars are stars to the uninformed masses who in reality have few aficionados in the ultra running community. Actions speak louder than words and gimmicks.

Having said all that, you could wait until you're really old, like 49, and have some really good performances, then talk write a book called "Age Is Just A Number". Oh wait, maybe that is going to be MY gimmick.

Dear Ask an Ultrarunner,

I recently read Douglas McChristopher's "Freedom to Run Free Like You Really Should Run." What an awesome book! In this Homeric tale, McChristopher recounts how he traveled to Chico to run in the footsteps of the Sierra Nevada Pale Feet, a reclusive group of runners descended from an ancient warrior tribe whose existence revolved around running. The Sierras don't just run, they ran backwards. They drink massive amounts of malted beverages, fuel themselves with pumpkin seeds and fashion their own "toe shoes" out of pumpkin vines. After reading McChristopher's operatic ode to running, I decided to follow the author's lead and adopt the Sierra's methods. Amazingly, ever since I started running backwards, I've been completely free of injuries. I've finished five ultras, running them all backwards and using pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie as my only fuel. My times are slower than they used to be, but I feel better than ever! I'm wondering what you think of McChristopher's book. Have you read it? Have you tried running backwards? Any plans to attempt a backwards Western States?


Ass Backwards

No, I haven't read it, and no I haven't tried running backwards, and no, no attempts to a backwards Western States. But your enthusiasm inspires me! So far, my age isn't slowing me down, so maybe I should take up backward running so I can finally take it down a notch.  Or, better yet, maybe I'll take up Parkour

Dear Ask an Ultrarunner,

I am so excited about the field this year. Seems like each year Western States has the best field ever and this year is no exception. You guys all being students of the race (and one of you the two-time defending champion) who are your top five picks for the men and women?


Jimmy The Greek


I don't put any store into predictions, but it seems likely that the winner will come from one of the five following women and men.

For women -

Devon Crosby-Helms
Tracy Garneau
Nikki Kimball
Joelle Vaught
and Yours Truly

For men -

Hal Koerner
Tsuyoshi Kaburaki
Anton Krupicka
Jeff Roes
Jez Bragg

Craig Thornley
Andy Jones-Wilkens 
Hal Koerner

I am on – Follow my training


  1. I completely agree that the winner for the women will come from that top five - but they won't be the top five. I can think of others (e.g. Pam Smith) who I can guarantee top five, but not the win.

    Kilian Jornet, if he makes it to the start, could battle Geof Roes for the win.

  2. @SteveQ - I agree - Pam is a talented up and coming runner. Others to contend for top spots include Annette Bednosky, Jill Perry, Diana Fitzpatrick, Rorie Osio, Caren Spore, and Jenny Capel.

    @Craig - No, not F5. Read carefully - the winner will be one of those 5. I plan on making a serious run for number 1.

  3. Apparently Jez is out with an injury, though I would have picked him top five as well.


  4. You and your fellow ultra ones blow me away, Meghan! Pat McMurtry is the only ultra runner I know personally-found you on fb as one of his friends. Would like to invite you to be a part of ROAD WARRIORS 2010-a very unique run-walk-hike-bike adventure to raise awareness and money for our wounded warriors and their children. I'm a dietitian-runner-hiker who saw a great chance to make our miles bigger this summer. blog/details at

  5. Meghan, that would be absolutely awesome if you win. Gotta do it, girl! For all your hard work. For all the ladies who are not 29 anymore:) See you at Squaw!

  6. Men:
    Krupicka,Roes, Koerner, Kaburaki,Jornet(if he shows)- Schmit a close 5th
    Women: Kimball,Helms,Garneau,Arbogast,Abbs
    -Spore a close 5th

  7. Kilian's showing (if not injured or dead), and if he's showing, he's winning. Any way to bet some money on that??

    Greetings from the other side of the ocean ;)

  8. Meghan!
    I am cheering for you as top girl! Please, please do it! I would be amazingly pleased for your and the age bracket of our gender to boot! Above all, run with patience and love and freedom!

  9. @annette - Thank you my dear! I hope you are in good form as well. I still remember fondly my first experience at Western States - 2005 - I was pacing my friend Ed Willson, and watched you come through aid stations so positive, poised, in control - I want to run like you did that day!